SocialWeb

26, February 2013  |  Published : Projects  | 

This project takes two questions as its starting point: « What does the term ‘social’ mean after 
Facebook? » and « What is collective intelligence after crowdsourcing? » These 
questions also correspond to two criticisms that can be applied to the technical
 developments of our time. The first concerns the destruction of individuation 
through social networks, which promote an extreme individualism in which
 the collective is considered as secondary, as a natural consequence. This approach 
sees only individualistic substantialism in social relations. The second contests
 the current proliferation of “crowdsourcing,” which considers individuals as a crowd that 
contributes without understanding what it is doing, and transforms online activities into essentially 
productive activities, confusing the significance of and investment in the work.
 We need to ask ourselves, ‘What are the alternatives? How do we go beyond the 
current Facebooks and dominant modalities imposed by industrialization?’

The project « SocialWeb » also proposes an alternative model that places
 the collective in the center of social networks and develops a promotional space,
 all of which Bernard Stiegler refers to as « the economy of contribution. » Stiegler was inspired by the American sociologist and psychologist Jacob Moreno, who, in
 the early 1930s, invented the new field of “Sociometry,” which became the paradigm 
of analyzing social networks (in particular, their graphic representation). From Moreno, we retain the principal of organizing sociality into social atoms. The
 project’s other important reference is French philosopher Gilbert Simondon and his theories of psychic and collective individuation, in which
 the group or collective subjects individuate themselves together. In this respect, Moreno and 
Simondon occupy extreme positions vis-à-vis one another. The Simondonian theory
 of collective individuation can serve as a remedy to technical individualism, but
 the overlaps between the two also interest us.

A social-network prototype will be developed, based on groups
 rather than individuals, and offering the user tools for its creation and administration.
 The intention is to emphasize the anonymity at the heart of social interactions and group dynamics. This project is financed by the “Office of Naval
 Research Global,” under the coordination of Alexandre Monnin and Harry Halpin.
The research is undertaken by Yuk Hui, a postdoctorate researcher, and the
 implementation of the system by engineer Julia Anaya.

Linked article: The next Facebook will be a toolkit for social computing

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