An end user accessing a service from within a social network will behave differently with regard to that service than he or she would if the service had been accessed from outside the social network. This is, of course, particularly true if the service can be shared with other individuals in that network or if the service is a collaboration enabling application.
Now, an end user’s behaviour often influences that end user’s perception of service performance or quality. Therefore, if social networks modify user behaviour then social networks will modify perceptions of service performance or quality. Hence, in a world where more and more services are being accessed from within one or more social networks, understanding how they affect behaviour will be critical aspect of infrastructure and application performance management.
Behaviours are shaped by many factors but knowledge is certainly one of the most important. What a user knows about his or her environment, about the services being accessed, and also about what others know or believe about the environment and the services will play a crucial role in determining what a user does when confronted with an option and how the user will regard the outcome of his or her behaviour. So, if we could get some understanding of how the state of a user’s knowledge changes as a result of his or her participation in a social network, that would go part of the way towards helping understand perceptions of service quality.
Epistemic logic, i.e., the study of how to reason about propositions or sentences that have the form ‘I know that…’ has been an important sub-discipline of AI since the early 1960s. From the beginning, there was an appreciation among researchers that reasoning that the knowledge possessed by a group of people that was aware of itself as a group was different in nature from the knowledge possessed by individuals as individuals. Over the last 10 years, however as the field of what I have been calling Social AI came into its own, the study of group knowledge and how group knowledge evolves under the impact of new information has become the very heart of modern epistemic logic research.
I believe that the epistemic logic of groups will provide important insights into how knowledge is distributed and updated in social networks and, by casting light on at least one aspect of the difference between accessing a service as part of community and accessing that service in isolation, will give some clues towards how social network embedded users perceive service quality. In future posts, I will explore some aspects of group knowledge and their implications for social network embedded end user experience monitoring.