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.