This project provides the foundational basis for much of the other work within SOCIAM. In response to the growth of the Social Web, a panoply of new terms arose to refer to various parts of the emerging landscape. The Theoretical Frameworks project set the stage with basic work on how to define the concept of a 'social machine', how to classify social machines, and on which levels of description researchers should aim to study them.
Our work on definitions took Berners-Lee & Fischetti's (1999) characterisation of social machines as the point of departure and developed and refined a notion of "web-based socio-technical systems in which the human and technological elements play the role of participant machinery with respect to the mechanistic realization of system-level processes" (Smart & Shadbolt 2014, 4). In our early work on classification, we introduced a taxonomic framework for description and classification in which 33 dimensions and 106 associated characteristics specify the space of all (theoretically possible) social machines.
In ongoing work, our areas of focus include the question of how to avoid social machine researchers geiting stuck in trying to understand complex social phenomena with data that is blurred by the particulars of any given platform.