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Question posted as a BeggingPage in SocialCollaboration. I felt that any collaboration is "kind of social", so that the meaning of "social" in this context is fuzzy. Also, there are a number of new terms like SocialSoftware, or pages like SocialCommonWealth, using "social" almost as a marketing term, so that thinking about this may be justified. -- HelmutLeitner

Fridemar Pache

"Social" is to the author an attribute for tools, interactions and complex systems, incorporating tools and interactions , characterized by:

(A) Tools and Interactions, that support the wellbeing of all interaction partners

(B) Interaction Partners, who are open for collaborating with and integrating as many as possible Newcomers.

Wellbeing is a combination of "happy, healthy, wealthy and wise", as consistent as possible.

As it is a very abstract question, the answer of the author is accordingly abstract.

The author is aware, that

We need a lot of intuition to handle this ethical question.

What is your view?

-- FridemarPache

Attitudes toward the word "social"

Google search requests


Fridemar, I think the question is indeed difficult. At the moment I have no single consistent answer, I can only state what I dislike or what I think can't work. (1) I dislike the use of "social" as expressing a vage idea of "good". In your definition any economic project becomes a social project. A pen and a phone are then social tools. (2) The connection of the ideas of "tools" and "interactions" with an idea of "social / good" in your sense can't work, because tools and interactions are always neutral. They can be used in a positive or negative way, but never be forced to be positive only.

I think that "social" might be seen in collective feelings and activities, like the helping in catastrophes, supporting the weaker members of a community, general services (e. g. health) that are free to all, or the production of common goods (like knowledge) that are shared. -- HelmutLeitner

Helmut, we agree that the question, you posed, is indeed difficult to be answered straight from the shoulder. So we have the opportunity (or time-trap?) to strive together to improve the consistency of our sketchy answers.

(Ad 1a:) Building on your statement: "In your definition any economic project becomes a social project.", I inserted "and integrating" to make the point clear. Therefore the author claims: an economic project is social, if it supports the Wellbeing of all involved Interaction Partners, open for collaborating with and integrating as many as possible Newcomers. Now you could make a point of Support the Wellbeing of all Interaction Partners, actual participants and newcomers.

(Ad 1b:) Yes Helmut, the tool: "phone" could qualify for a "social phone". Think of a shared phone in a poor village in Africa, used e.g. for mutual help

(Ad 1c:) Yes Helmut, even a pen, could be a "social pen", if it would be the only one in an extremely poor social environment ...

(Ad 2) Quoting your statement:

>The connection of the ideas of "tools" and "interactions" with an idea of "social / good" in your sense can't work, because tools and interactions are always neutral."<

Thank you, for giving me the chance to adjust my definition part (A) from:

 "Social" is to the author an attribute for tools and interactions, characterized by:

 (A) Tools and Interaction support the wellbeing of all interaction partners


 "Social" is to the author an attribute for tools and interactions, characterized by:

 (A) Tools and Interaction, that support the wellbeing of all interaction partners

Quoting the start of you last paragraph:

 I think that "social" might be seen in collective feelings and activities, like ...

This is the normal and not the technical use of the attribute "social". In my definition I tried to capture the use of "social" within the global context of [SocialSoftware], SocialBookmarking, SocialAnnotation, SocialCollaboration, SocialCommonWealth.

An important aspect in the general sphere of social activities is for the author, to '"help each other" '' to overcome the egocentric or even groupcentric view, that it is "we" who help "them".

Therefore the attribute "social" is to the author an attribute, better assigned to a tool or an interaction, than a person, group or institution. Example: Helping in catastrophies is a "social" interaction. I wouldn't ascribe "social" to the helpers, or institutions to decorate them with a nice label. This would discriminate the people, "getting" help by building a Social Asymetry. The "helpers" help the victims of the catastrophy to rebuild their damaged structures, whereas the victims help the "helpers" to increase responsibility, awareness, meaning in life and even income for getting themselves "food on the table" by the institution and the sponsors, who partially pay them.

-- [fridemar]

Fridemar, according to your definition and explanations, any economic project is social, because it wants to involve and integrate as many newcomers (customers) as possible and of course this is only possible when it's credible that this is to their wellbeing. Even cigarettes may be considered to increase wellbeing, if one values "happyness or the feeling of freedom" more than health. In this sense "Las Vegas" and "stock exchange" are social collaborations. In a constructivistic way, one could even say that "Las Vegas" helps people to get out of their "catastrophic lifes", at least for some days and get rid of some of their superfluous money, which burdens them, at the same time. Although this doesn't seem to be entirely wrong it is imho a misuse of the word "social".

With respect to your excellent examples of "social pen" and "social phone" I can only restate, and we seem to agree, that these tools get their social quality in these examples by the way they are used and not by the way they are constructed. This suggests that a producer can't make "social tools", he might hope for social use, but usually any legal use, social or not, is welcome to him.

Back to the topic - remember that most of the writers here still don't understand SocialCommonWealth - what is the difference between SocialCommonWealth and a normal economic project? -- HelmutLeitner

Many large companies recognize certain types of forces that are likely to affect them.

In preparing their strategic, long-term plans, many large companies recognize four distinct types of forces, depending on the domains within which they originate. Specifically...

Hopefully, this will help focus these discussions a bit.

-- HansWobbe.

Hans, this clarifies the strategic situation of larger corporations. But how is the relationship of this to the WhatIsSocial page topic? -- HelmutLeitner

Helmut... I only thought it might help to introduce some "accepted" definitions since, if everyone defines their own different meanings of words, the problems of communicating and achieving any type of mutual understanding become worse. Clearly, the context in which words appear affect their interpretations. In many companies, the primary focus is on making money, just as it is for most individuals who "work" to do the same (in spite of their usual statements that they would prefer to not have to "work").

My understanding of Fridemar's proposal so far, is that I should work for the benefit of others (hoping that perhaps because I do, then I will also benefit from their work). In effect, this becomes a form of collaboration for mutual benefit. There are quite a few conditions under which I (personally) will do this. However, there are also quite a few conditions under which I compete for profit (obviously at the expense of other competitors). Obviously there is an interaction with others in both cases, and that may make both efforts "social" interactions, but I think that the definition of "social" that seems to be emerging from Fridemar's posts, would only apply to one of these two types of "interactions".

By the way, I also feel that there is a tone of "marketing" usage apparent in some of what has been posted so far, and (at least for me) that causes my "resistance" to these ideas to increase in the same way that a television commercial usually causes me to be more suspicious of a product.

-- HansWobbe

Hans, of course, I don't preach heroic altruism at the cost of one's own benefit. Hey, even Jesus didn't teach that. "Love your peer as yourself." is the modern translation of the Golden Rule of His ethics. So, the same prospering, I want for myself, I do want for my interacting peers. And concerning commercials: I never saw a commercial from an OpenBusiness, or OpenBusinessWiki yet. We are the vanguards of modern HoofSmith teams, (not really making a good team yet, but nevertheless) demonstrating how to produce messages as a side-effect, messages that reduce the cost of spreading awareness of the future job of peers, who realize the idea. With refined awareness we see, that marketing is omnipresent. Nearly each word is meanwhile "owned" by some company, even such an innocent word as apple. "Apple" is a trademark of Apple (TM) computers. -- [fridemar]

Helmut, thank you for your provocative assertion "economy = social" in the digest. However this is not a consequence of the author's definition. The current situation, sketched as formula would be better described by the subclassing relation "<" as

 SocialCommonWealth < SocialEconomy < Economy [1]

In words: SocialEconomy [2],[3] is a true subclass of the class Economy [4], inheriting certain properties, but adding some new qualities. The SocialCommonWealth [5],[6](as imagined by the author) is again a subclass of the SocialEconomy, in so far, as it applies to an economy of OnlineCommunities, based on digital goods and services. Here everyone is each other's employer and employee, for CreatingAndSharingWealth [7].

These new qualities are:

They are rarely seen in the Economy. Let's take your example of the cigarette-industry. There we have a typical distinction between producers and consumers, where there is no Social Symmetry in the sense of collaboration for the mutual benefit. Otherwise there were no class-actions against the producers, who take one-sided economic profit, most probably destroying the health of their customers. We can't see any collaboration neither for Creating Wealth [9],[10] nor for Sharing Wealth [11],[12], [13],[14].

-- [fridemar]

It's better to take long-standing definitions empirical disiciplines, like science, since the definitions must provide some utility making conclusions about the RealWorld in order to stick around. In this case, biology, anthropology, or sociology (Dictionary:social), which boil down roughly to "living together in groups." Out of this basic definition comes the motivation for many behaviours, like communication for coordination. ConflictResolution policies. Economic activity (even amongst animals). Politics, e.g. the PeckingOrder.

Fridemar, you are defining your premises to support a foregone conclusion. That is an invalid approach, and actually indicates your conclusion is wrong. If you find yourself bending over backwards, you need to KillYourDarlings. -- SunirShah

Sunir, now that you expanded KillYourDarlings, I can respond to you in a more specific way. To compare dynamic pages and static literary work is to me like comparing apples with pairs. If think we can agree to Develop Your Darlings, but doing it in the sense of Develop Each Others Darlings (BarnRaising), if these Darlings are compatible with the common MeatballMission, we share. So why don't I take "long standing definitions of empirical social science". It simply comes from the fact, that the (Darling) structure, I suggest to develop, is an innovation, not yet handled by empirical science. More on this in [SocialEconomy#OnlineCommunitySupportedFreeMarket]. Of course a counterexample would make me happy, because if such a group as a working OpenBusinessWiki would be already in existence, we could transform our discussion immediately more into real collaboration for CreatingAndSharingWealth for the mutual benefit. Unfortunately there are only a handful peers here to interact, with little engagement, because they "have to work" elsewhere to secure their income. Imagine, if engaging in a wiki would make such external work superfluous. Then a new quality of wikidom would arise.

-- [fridemar]

You may want to revise your statement now that I have written KillYourDarlings. -- SunirShah

Thanks Sunir, just did it. -- fridemar

Well, you're a professor. You have ample resources to determine whether or not your ideas have been tackled before, so that's something I'm going to challenge you on. They have, in spades (and blood). Either way, it's still invalid to redefine a word like 'social' and SocialCollaboration through a lens that is specific to where you're heading. I'm only interjecting so stringently on this page because it is a central definition to most of MeatballWiki's purpose. (Otherwise, I mostly enjoy observing your exploration.)

By the way, I actually just did http://www.strengthfinder.com today for FreshBooks?, and it reinforced the fact that I strongly prefer to learn from the past than envision the future anew. I'd bet you're the opposite, as we've had arguments around the same tensions before. I'm a little more mature about it now, but like I said, I can't let the definition of 'social' go easily. -- SunirShah

Hey Sunir, happily I am not a "professor", I am a peer, like any other here. We are each other's student and teacher, and all have (hopefully) the same access-chances to the vast information resources online and offline, especially the books of public libraries. Rooted in various OnlineCommunities, our research resources are dramatically greater than those of every single member. I agree with you, that it is futile to "redefine a word like 'social'". I am not going to redefine the fuzzy term "social". However, what I and everyone else can do and what we actually do, is filling the identifiers SocialCommonWealth [15], OpenBusiness [16], OpenBusinessWiki [17], SocialSoftware [18], SocialAnnotation [19], SocialCollaboration [20] (as distinct from CorporateCollaboration), with ideas, concepts, digital products and services, that produces revenue for the "hard working" peers. By the way, I actually enjoy, that you enjoy my (I would prefer: our) exploration here, and I hope to amplify your happiness (and that of all peers) by buying the recommended book (as a symbolic contribution to OpenBusiness) to get access to the digital service, you created for [FreshBooks].

-- [fridemar]

Fridemar, when you talk about "integrating newcomers" in the two different contexts of SocialEconomy and SocialCommonWealth ... what does this mean exactly (or give an example)? -- HelmutLeitner

As my focus is on SocialCommonWealth, integrating newcomers is to me a similar procedure like integrating newcomers into a wiki like MeatballWiki. Friendly Welcome, RealName, WikiHomepage, AssumeGoodFaith. This is the simpler part.
The tricky part cannot yet be demonstrated, because it needs at least two partners, who start to collaborate in public in a fully transparent way: negotiating, producing a digital good or service, selling it and sharing revenue. -- [fridemar]

I think it's going to be close to impossible to come up with a definition of something like "Social" that everyone is going to agree with. This diffculty is rooted in what I've been struggling to lay out at [LiteracyOfHumanNature]. Different people have different fundamental assumptions about reality, that emerge from a unique combination of internal dynamic nueronal systems, and external conditions.

When you employ an adjective like "Social", radically different pictures are drawn within the minds of different people, based upon how those people go about solving what they see as their problems of existence. So, if you want to ask the question "WhatIsSocial" for human beings in general, you've got to include this spectrum of meaning, of recognizeable patterns of deep, core fundamental assumptions about existence. This is not an easy thing to do. These patterns can be reconized better by looking at "why" people are saying, than "what" they are saying. "Why" does someone define "social" this way or that way? The reason "why" is rooted in their fundamental assumptions of existence. WhyIsSocial?, maybe? :) -- SamRose

Sam, I agree with the "close to impossible" but ... in other fields, e. g. mathematics (cryptography), physics (unyfication of the four basic forces), medicine (treatment of aids or cancer) difficults problems are and have always been attacked with great enthusiasm. There are fuzzy phenomena that man have found like and unknown continent and named, like "democracy" or "social", that have to be explored, created, filled with life. It has to do with language that has to do with inherited worldviews and habits but, yes, but ... language is also a continuous construction process. The WhyIsSocial? is part of that. Why not tackle this problem? -- HelmutLeitner

Well, I definitely agree with you that the problem should be tackled. So, I didn't mean to come across as suggesting it's a bad idea to explore this. I like that you raise the point that human nature and world views, and meaning making and language are a continuous process. Just posing the question "WhatIsSocial" can help draw out the spectrums of perspectives and show the many existing meanings of "Social". So, I definitely support the exploration of "WhatIsSocial".

Personally, I've always looked at "Social" as generically meaning "(human) interaction", but I have a bias towards ComplexityTheory?, SocialScience? and [[Psychology]], all of which looks at humans in a scientific/objective/systems-scale approach. I've never placed a "good/bad" value meaning on "Social" by itself. I've seen "Social" as literally any interaction between two or more humans (of course, this could easily extend beyond humans, to any interaction between two life forms), and then thought about what I culturally or personally consider "healthy" or "unhealthy", "good" or "bad" (or even "neutral") Social interaction, and followed "Social" with that contextualizing word.

I don't see "Social" as meaning "non-hierarchical", thus a SocialEconomy is not equated in my mind with a "non-class" economy. I've seen people using terms like "P2P" (PeerToPeer), "Laterally Connected" (YaneerBarYam? in Complexity Rising]). "SharingEconomy?" (HowardRheingold), "ManyToMany?". --SamRose

Sam, I inserted some Google references into your last contribution, to make it easier for the peers to explore the context. -- [fridemar]

Fridemar, I remove the google search links that you added to Sams contribution because I found them distracting. I change your name to a complete signature (AbbreviationsAreEvil) to access your homepage to leave you a message. -- HelmutLeitner

Thank you Helmut for notifications, however I allow myself to use the short signature as a Domain Based Real Name. My viewpoint is different. I don't accept the directive AbbreviationsAreEvil. Would you write Internationational Business Machines for IBM? I don't think so. :-). There are some subtleties in my signature. If I contribute an initial page to Meatball, I use the full Wiki Signature. If I use the linkable shortform, this link allows to read my associated blog document, possibly enriched with some more links. If I use the short form without a link, it signals that it is a temporal post, that is not blogged, for the benefit of my conversation partner. -- fridemar

Fridemar, AbbreviationsAreEvil holds with those abbreviation that are less common. When I abbreviate your name to "fp" or use innocent things like "btw" or "imho" a majority of readers will not know their meaning. So we have learned to avoid them. IBM or USA are OK. -- HelmutLeitner

When I read WhatIsSocial, I parse "social" as a noun, rather than an adjective, and think of the game TheSims?. In other words, [hug me, I need social]. -- MartinHarper

Sakura (6) told me, "Daaad, ... My fun box is low." She was using the fun box in the sims as a basic language element. -- LionKimbro


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