Formalization of communication in social networks

    “We do not understand how social life actually works. Therefore, we are building rough approximate models for her and for human psychology. In the modern technological world, the prerequisites for these models are often made on the basis of materials drawn from science fiction and popular psychology, because we are proud of our complete misunderstanding of social life. A simplified or mechanistic understanding of social life is characteristic of individuals prone to autism.

    From the autistic point of view, the phenomena of social life can and should be processed at the programmatic and algorithmic level, and perceived at the level of simple categories. The complex relationships that people enter daily in their daily lives come down to segmented opportunities. When we teach children who are prone to autism to participate in social life, we explain to them the meaning of such simple concepts as facial expressions: that a smile means goodwill, and frowning brows mean concern. Step by step, we dissect social affects and try to formalize them so that children can understand the world around them. We are trying to do the same with computers. How does this differ from the simple question: “Are you my friend or not?”

    Take the recent surge in interest in multi-tier social networks such as Friendster,, LinkedIn, Orkut, etc. These technologies try to formalize the process of building and managing relationships among people and suggest that you can assign ratings to your friends. In some cases, they at the procedural level manage the process of communication with new people, providing their users with a formalized process for establishing contacts.

    Undoubtedly, this approach has its advantages, because it is easily formalized, but it scares me when people consider this a model of social life. It is so simplified that people are forced to enter into communication as if they are suffering from autism, and all interactions between them should be built on a procedural level. Of course, the procedural approach helps people who need to systematize this kind, but this is not a universal model that suits absolutely everyone. Moreover, what are the consequences of the presence of technologies that require the mechanistic involvement of new participants in the communication process? Do we really need a social life that encourages autistic communication? ”

    Dana Boyd, "Autism in Social Software"

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