Much has changed. Please visit our:
- Project Planning Page for our grand vision, or
- Project Progress Page for sober reality.
- New Index Page , that replaces this one but does not make it obsolete.
SocialTechnology.ca is an organization devoted to finding and promoting genuine solutions to social problems. Currently the solutions being considered involve the creation of social structure through the matching of individuals, organizations, and social contexts.
This approach to social problems is based on the following observations:
- the poorest people are those who lack social connections (jobs, family, friends) and the route away from poverty almost always involves making such connections
- the most dangerous people are those whose social connections are poor or inappropriate (loners, gang members) and the only way such people stop being a threat to themselves and others is through better social contacts
- the saddest and loneliest people are those with poor social connections (unmarried, few and poor friendships, etc.) and these are also the people most likely to commit suicide unless they gain such connections
Poverty, crime, and social disorder are all symptoms of social mismatch or the lack of social integration. For human society to survive and prosper almost everybody should be well integrated into society with suitable work to do and strong social relationships. To make that possible it should be easy to find productive work and to maintain viable communities based on strong interpersonal relationships.
- It should be easy to find a good job, but it isn’t. It is even harder to find a truly suitable job which matches your abilities.
- It should be easy to find a compatible spouse or sexual partner, but again, it isn’t. And it is much harder to find someone truly compatible where the attraction is mutual.
- It should also be easy find close friends and make other important social connections, but even this is hard, and it is especially hard to make long-lasting friends.
All of this may soon change with the introduction of new social technology.
SocialTechnology.ca exists to do research, develop prototype software, promote the use of new hi-tech social technology, and smooth the effects of its introduction. A mailing list for the discussion of social technology has been established and interested people are encouraged to contribute their ideas and concerns to it.
Far too often attempted solutions to human problems are only “band-aid” solutions, which at most treat the symptoms rather than the underlying illness, and often serve only to cover up those symptoms. Homeless shelters and food banks don’t treat the underlying causes of homelessness, just the symptoms. Welfare and unemployment insurance don’t treat the underlying causes of unemployment and poverty, just the symptoms. Indeed, some of these social programs probably make the illness worse.
Sometimes it is necessary to treat symptoms, to prevent people from starving or freezing to death while we work on the underlying causes of social problems, but it is possible to cure social problems at the source.
People with good jobs, good friends, and a compatible spouse have a much more satisfying life, and are therefore much less likely to commit crimes.
Briefly, social technology is technology for making society work, technology for the creation and maintenance of social structure. See below for a more thorough definition.
Why We Need New Social Technology
In our society most people somehow find some sort of job, and most people marry, eventually, to someone. Most people have a few friends. But few of us find a really good job, and few of us stay happily married. Friends come and go, but lots of people don’t have good long-lasting friendships.
This is not a satisfactory situation. It is unacceptable. Human beings need work to do. Human beings need compatible people to associate with. If deprived of these social needs people are damaged and lead incomplete lives — and they are also less productive members of society, poor parents to any children they may have, and much more likely to commit crimes.
Far too many people never find a good job, and are either on welfare, begging on streetcorners, or stuck in a dead-end job they hate. Far too many people never find a truly compatible spouse and are either lonely and embittered, move from one unsatisfactory relationship to another, or are stuck in a marriage with someone they’ve grown to hate.
Society must provide a reliable mechanism that people can use to find good jobs — jobs they will enjoy and learn from, or at very least jobs that compensate them well for their time and effort. This requirement is not met by existing employment services.
Society must provide a reliable mechanism that people can use to find compatible husbands and wives, or sexual partners without stressful “dating” between strangers. This requirement also is not met by any of the current dating-services.
Society must have appropriate mechanisms for finding (or growing) good long-lasting friendships.
It’s Only a Matter of Time
Eventually human society will come to realize the importance of social technology and the wisdom of ensuring that each person has the basic necessities of life. It’s only a matter of time.
Human society must guarantee that each person has clean air, clean water, nutritious food, a safe place to live, health care, education, liberty, and justice, together with a good job, a compatible spouse or sexual partner, and good friends.
Whether it be through government, private enterprise, or non-profit non-governmental organizations, “human society” must somehow ensure everyone has the fundamentals of human life, including the basic social necessities: love, friendship, and meaningful work.
Briefly stated, social technology is the collection and study of tools and techniques used to make society work. It is the technological counterpart to the social sciences and draws on the knowledge they have collected.
The Internet and WorldWideWeb have often been described as social technology, but SocialTechnology.ca is more concerned with pure social technology, technology that is intrinsically social, not merely a social side effect of better communication and transportation.
The purest and most interesting form of social technology is that which involves the creation of social relationships such as the relationship between employer and employee or husband and wife.
We do have some mechanisms for creating social relationships, such as the “Help Wanted” and “Personals” sections of classified ads in newspapers, but as social technology these are truly paleolithic inventions, not worthy of consideration. SocialTechnology.ca is more concerned with “hi-tech” social technology which makes good use of all the social survey data laboriously collected by sociologists over the past few decades and uses sophisticated algorithms from graph theory for analysis.
Social scientists have been collecting social survey data for many years, but it has been used mainly for research by those same social scientists and their students, who have written many academic papers about their findings. Now it is time to make proper use of all that data by making it the foundation of a new high-tech industry.
The Future of Social Technology
People who follow the stock markets hear a lot about ‘information technology’ and may have been told that the dominant technology of the new millenium will be some form of information technology involving the Internet. Information technology is important, but the future may belong to pure social technoloyg, technology that is intrinsically social, not merely a social side effect of better communication and transportation
Social technology will transform our world beyond recognition, perhaps making the business sector less about making money and more about serving human needs. But in the next few years, as this process gets underway, many businesses will be set up to exploit social technology and some people will makes lots of money from doing so, as always happens when new technology is introduced.
The first concrete step the creation of a non-profit organization to do research, prototype new social technology, and promote its use.
A large part of the inspiration for SocialTechnology.ca comes from people like Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation, and Linus Torvald, who wrote the Linux kernel and started the remarkable global development effort that made Linux a success.
SocialTechnology.ca, will do research and develop free software aimed at social change. It will also promote social technology and help people make use of it. As with GNU software from the Free Software Foundation, there is no objection to people making money from what we do for free — we will help and encourage people who want to do that.
Social technology includes many things, but on this page we concentrate on plans for pure social technology, the creation and maintainance of social structure — the realization of that utopian future world, or something like it.
This web site has very little content so far. More information can be found at the following pages:
- The Social Technology Page
- The Global Ideas Bank at the Institute of Social Inventions.
- The Social Technology Mailing List.
- Social Technology Links
- Imagine a Future World that is Better for Everyone.
- Technology and Society Resource Page
Right now we are taking the broadest possible interpretation of the phrase ‘social technology’, which includes at least:
- All applications of technology, from whatever underlying source of tools and techniques, to the solution of social problems and the better organization of society.
- All technology derived from or related to the social sciences: sociology, anthropology, social and behavioural psychology, criminology, social and behavioural geography, and social economics.
- All technology used by the major social institutions in our society, including education, healthcare, the legal system, and government.
- Your interpretation — what do you think social technology is? I do not want to exclude any legitimate use of the phrase.
This site is maintained by Doug Wilson, who has done a rather poor job of maintaining it so far. He’d very much like someone else to do it!
Copyright © 1998-2000 Douglas P. Wilson