Social Technology

I have had so many computer problems over the past day that it’s been difficult to focus on content, which is what really matters.

There is so much I want to post on this blog, but bandwidth is limited to what is practical. People are too busy to accept a lot of information from one source.

Actually, keeping control of bandwidth is one important aspect of social technology. Networking is not just about establishing more connections, it is about managing them. Depending on what I do, I either get too much or too little information over the Internet, and the same is true of the social network.

I think I should sketch out some content to be provided in the future, so people can decide how to make use of this blog, ignoring it or paying attention to it.

One important question to be discussed later is empirical confirmation of what I say. There is a problem here, the human testing problem.  We cannot just match people with jobs and other people in controlled experiments, just as we have to be very careful about human testing of drugs.   Some empirical data has been collected already, however, social survey data, which needs much analysis.

What I would most like is for the issues of social technology to be taken up by some of the large numbers of grad students needing dissertation topics, (or, of course, faculty members hoping not to perish). There is an enormous amount of work to be done, some of which I can list, but collecting research suggestions from others is also important. I am trying to revise my web pages and to work on various related networking tools, such as this blog and the wiki I set up, but I am not at all an expert at this. Some help would be wonderful.

Some help should not be necessary, though, and I get in a bad temper about it every time I work on things. So often I find out that to do something I want to do it will be necessary to do a bit of PHP programming, or at least edit scripts in that language to set some parameters. I have done a lot of computer programming in various languages, I just don’t want to do this.  It shouldn’t be necessary.

Well, OK, that’s reality, and given the amount of very good free software out there I should be more tolerant.  But these social networking tools would be both ineffective and dangerous even if they did work well.  Excellent surgical tools do not make surgery safer if sterile tools and environments are not guaranteed. The days in which totally ineffective patent medicines shared counter space with powerful but dangerous opiates, freely sold to anyone, have passed, happily, but we still have social technology of an equivalently primitive level.

Ideally, you and I should each be connected with a small number of people who in some way should be communicating or working with us.   I have a lot to say but only a few want to listen to me. I am willing to listen, but not to everything.  I need help with some things, can offer help with others.  Taken together these criteria should cut down the number of people I should communicate with to a manageable number.  Actually finding those people is an impossible problem with the social tools we have at the moment. If seriously trying to find the people we need, we are almost always “infected” with a lot of unwanted or at least inappropriate social contacts.

I am complaining about this, as I should be, just as the few who understood the dangers of bad medical practices complained, but not just complaining.  I believe I can offer some solutions.

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