Social technologies support social interaction and are distinct from transaction based IT solutions that are not socially adaptive. What does that mean, to be socially adaptive? Here are some thoughts in no particular order:
- Socially adaptive systems are person centric; they revolve to some extent around the person as the unit of focus rather than the transaction or the technology. They can revolve around other things (see below) but one of those things is the person.
- Socially adaptive systems are multi-polar supporting more than one potential organizing construct and application. Those constructs are self-organizing defined by the people engaged in the system who define and evolve the terms/indices and other organizing constructs.
- Socially adaptive systems are indeterminate they are not locked into any one purpose or end objective. These systems are deliberately unstructured or have minimal structure. CRM/SCM or ERP systems are determinate you know what they are going to do and they only do what you expect.
- Socially adaptive systems are generative providing simple tools that people use in combination and extend to create new technologies and applications that could not be predicted from the start. Being generative, these systems are inherently open with published API’s and solution developer toolkits (SDK’s)
- Socially adaptive systems die as interest and activity move to other areas, other technologies or other topics. It is ok for them to fade away or become obscure. There is no requirement for a socially adaptive system to be protected as the standard – in the social world its survival of the fittest.
- Socially adaptive systems are spontaneous coming into being based on the interests of participants rather than detailed premade plans. These systems are opportunistic finding and exploiting niches and cracks at their start.
- Socially adaptive systems evolve based on the actions of their audience rather than the actions of a central authority. There is no release plan for these systems. They adapt based on actions of the participants.
- Socially adaptive systems are simple relying on simple programming constructs, languages and terms. Complexity is buried in services that enable everyone the opportunity to contribute to both the content and the capability of the system.
- Socially adaptive systems are content centric rather than transaction centric. They are imprecise specifically so they can be adaptive. Transaction centric systems carry too much structure which is costly and time consuming to evolve and maintain limiting its ability to match the pace of updates with the pace of social interaction.
Using these definitions, it is easy to how ‘usual suspects’ of social technology are adaptive social systems. It is also clear to see the difference between those systems and others that are social in nature but not social systems. Amazon’s reviewer functionality is social in nature but not an adaptive social system. EBay is likewise, having some of the aspects mentioned. Apple technology likewise is social in nature and close to but not entirely socially adaptive.
You can lament that social technologies must be losing their innovative nature. As proof you would consider this post, which believes that it is even possible to propose characteristics for these technologies. That way of thinking goes “if someone can define/describe in then surly it is a sign that the train has left the station.”
That was not the intent of the post; rather this post seeks to show how different socially adaptive systems are from legacy systems that are socially inept and not adaptive.
What do you think are requirements for socially adaptive systems?