Social machines

Social Machines are a characterization of technology-enabled social systems, seen as computational entities governed by both computational and social processes. The purpose of such a model is to enable the effective identification and interrogation of the components, processes, properties and limits of such systems - in particular those that enable them to solve complex social and computational problems in a decentralized fashion, at large scale.

The objective of SOCIAM is to lead an examination of both existing and new kinds of systems made possible through technologies such as the Web, using an interdisciplinary approach spanning social science, computer science, behavioural psychology, and economics.

The field of Social Machines is very diverse, and it is this diversity that researchers in SOCIAM are exploring. Depending on who is scrutinising them and for what purpose - system designers, content producers, platform providers, social scientists, or the community of potential contributors, Social Machines can be described and understood in very different ways. How to understand and connect these multifarious aspects of Social Machines is one of the main lines of investigation of SOCIAM. Preliminary results can be found in this book chapter. To have a better understanding of the types of systems we are looking at, we list some of the most familiar examples in this space, which we study in our classification.

Social Networks

4chan

4chan is the notorious internet imageboard started by Christopher Poole in 2003 from which much internet culture is thought to derive, including internet...

Facebook

Facebook is arguably the world’s most famous social networking website. It connects friends, colleagues, and people from all around the world. Its name comes from a colloquialism for the directory given to students at some American universities...

Flickr

Flickr (stylized as flickr ) is an image hosting and video hosting website, and online community that was created by Ludicorp in 2004 and acquired by...

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a social networking website for professionals. Founded in December 2002 and launched on May 5, 2003, it is mainly used for professional networking. As of June 2012, LinkedIn reports more than 175...

Tumblr.

Tumblr is a microblogging platform and social networking website that allows users to post multimedia and other content in a short-form, personalised blog.

Twitter

Twitter’s microblogging platform took the world by storm in 2006 and enables users to send and read short 140-character text messages called "tweets".

Public Service Social Machines

CollabMap

CollabMap is a crowdsourcing platform designed by researchers in the Agents, Interaction, and Complexity Group at the University of Southampton . The platform...

Crime reports

Crimereports.com is commercial service providing a visualisation / mapping platform established to both allow police authorities to make crime data about neighbourhoods accessible to the public, and to allow...

eBay

Founded in 1995, eBay provides an online auction model, with internet users as buyers and sellers and eBay acting as the auction house. One of the advantages that technology was that it is a lot easier to bring...

Fix my street

FixMyStreet is a mySociety website through which users can report potholes, broken street lights and similar problems...

The search for Jim Gray

On Sunday, January 28, 2007, during a short solo sailing trip to the Farallon Islands near San Francisco to scatter his mother's ashes,...

Usahidi

Ushahidi which means "testimony" in Swahili, was a website that was initially developed to map reports of violence in Kenya after the post-election fallout at the beginning of 2008. Since then, the name "Ushahidi" has come to represent the people...

Knowledge Sharing Social Machines

Delicious.com

Delicious (formerly del.icio.us ) is a social bookmarking Web service for storing, sharing, and discovering bookmarks. The site was founded by Joshua...

digg

What started as an experiment in the fall of 2004 is now a major online presence with an estimated 40 million monthly users. Kevin Rose's concept of a user-controlled community that votes to \digg up what links that they collectively deem...

Github

Github was founded in 2008, and by 2011 became the most popular open source code repository, beating competitors sourceforge and google code. Github provides social networking functionality such as feeds, followers...

Quora

Quora is a question-and-answer website where questions are created, answered, edited and organized by its community of users.

reddit

reddit is an entertainment, social networking service and news website where registered community members can submit content, such as text posts or direct links. Only registered users can then vote submissions...

Stack Overflow

Stack Overflow is a question and answer site for professional and enthusiast programmers. Stack Overflow is the flagship site of the Stack Exchange Network, created in 2008 by Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky as...

Wikipedia One of the world’s most famous examples of a public service Social Machine, Wikipedia is an example of how Social Machines evolve to become a vital, knowledge sharing public service.

Citizen Science Social Machines

Duolingo

Duolingo is a free language-learning and crowdsourced text translation platform. The service is designed so that, as users progress through the lessons, they simultaneously help to translate websites and...

Galaxy Zoo

Galaxy Zoo is an online astronomy project which invites people to assist in the morphological...

New Forest Cicada

The New Forest Cicada (Cicadetta montana s. str.) is the only cicada native to the UK. During May to July it sings with a very characteristic high-pitched song, which is at the limits of human hearing, and is particularly difficult for most...