Social machines are a type of network connected by interactive digital devices made possible by the ubiquitous adoption of technologies such as the Internet, the smartphone, social media and the read/write World Wide Web, connecting people at scale to document situations, cooperate on tasks, exchange information, or even simply to play. Existing social processes may be scaled up, and new social processes enabled, to solve problems, augment reality, create new sources of value, and disrupt existing practice.
This book considers what talents one would need to understand or build a social machine, describes the state of the art, and speculates on the future, from the perspective of the EPSRC project SOCIAM - The Theory and Practice of Social Machines. The aim is to develop a set of tools and techniques for investigating, constructing and facilitating social machines, to enable us to narrow down pragmatically what is becoming a wide space, by asking 'when will it be valuable to use these methods on a sociotechnical system?' The systems for which the use of these methods adds value are social machines in which there is rich person-to-person communication, and where a large proportion of the machine's behaviour is constituted by human interaction. 32 Illustrations, color; 6 Illustrations, black and white; XII, 260 p. 38 illus., 32 illus. in color.