Thanks to substantial amounts of successful collaborative problem solving activity on the Web, the terms 'social computation' and 'crowd computation' have become popular within computer science and beyond. However, applying traditional conceptions of computation to processes in these new socio-technical systems should be done carefully.
In this project, we take a step back to examine the notion of social computation, and whether the accumulated information propagation behaviour on the web can rightly be conceived as a giant machine, and reasoned about accordingly. Our work in this project has developed the concept of universal socio-technical computing machines (or Social Computers), in which arbitrary workflows can be composed solely by the input of human participants through a set of primitive built-in tasks, which forms the basic instruction set of the Social Computer to form complex algorithms.
We also elaborate the term socio-technical computation, which reflects not only explicitly conditional activities but also the organic potential residing in information on the Web.