Liveblogging at the Social Computing Symposium 6

Good discussions following the third lightning round session: I would say the third set of presentations were the ones that stimulated the richest slate of follow-up conversations.

One cool concrete idea that came out of Julian Dibbell’s presentation was something like a machinima-centric “news service” that offered reportage on interesting, cool or compelling moments and events in virtual worlds.

Great discussion led by Tom Coates, one of the people I’ve found most compelling here, about the problems involved in aggregating individual action into collective or systematic results through social software. We’re supposed to receive the notes from that session via email, and I’m waiting with some eagerness for them, as there was a lot of ground covered in the conversation.

Addition: there was a group discussing failure (of devices, of software, of virtual communities or entities). This is such a crucial topic, not just in the context of this meeting. I would love to see a conference or workshop on failure in history, or relatedly, on things that never were but could have been. Philosophers who write on causation pay attention to failure or non-occurance, but in other fields, arguments about causation always seem to me to lack any attention, empirical or theoretical, to failure.

Further addition Another group discussed the contention that social network analysis is useless because it reduces the actual complexity of social relations and because it produces accounts of social relations that don’t seem to accurately represent lived experience when showed to the people represented by such analysis. My thought about that is a bit of “And did you guys talk about the problem of dogs biting men?” Sure, there’s people who go crazy with analytic concepts and mistake them for ontology, but that’s a basic problem in all academic work. Mostly I would say that people who talk about networks are very clear that networks are an abstraction of lived experience, not a mimesis of it.

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