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Open Access

Social Computing Unhinged

University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, and Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA.
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Social computing is ubiquitous and intensifying in the 21st Century. Originally used to reference computational augmentation of social interaction through collaborative filtering, social media, wikis, and crowdsourcing, here I propose to expand the concept to cover the complete dynamic interface between social interaction and computation, including computationally enhanced sociality and social science, socially enhanced computing and computer science, and their increasingly complex combination for mutual enhancement. This recommends that we reimagine Computational Social Science as Social Computing, not merely using computational tools to make sense of the contemporary explosion of social data, but also recognizing societies as emergent computers of more or less collective intelligence, innovation and flourishing. It further proposes we imagine a socially inspired computer science that takes these insights into account as we build machines not merely to substitute for human cognition, but radically complement it. This leads to a vision of social computing as an extreme form of human computer interaction, whereby machines and persons recursively combine to augment one another in generating collective intelligence, enhanced knowledge, and other social goods unattainable without each other. Using the example of science and technology, I illustrate how progress in each of these areas unleash advances in the others and the beneficial relationship between the technology and science of social computing, which reveals limits of sociality and computation, and stimulates our imagination about how they can reach past those limits together.


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Journal of Social Computing
Pages 1-13
Cite this article:
Evans J. Social Computing Unhinged. Journal of Social Computing, 2020, 1(1): 1-13.










Received: 28 September 2020
Accepted: 08 October 2020
Published: 28 October 2020
© The author(s) 2020

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