Social Tech Then and Now — Has it Changed at All

The Status of Social Technology

As I explained on my early mailing lists and later webpages, I find that social technology has hardly improved at all over the years.   We still use representative democracy, a social technology, exactly the same as it was used in the 18th century.  By contrast, the transportation technology of horse and buggy has been replaced by automobiles and airplanes, enormous changes.

One need only to look at large combines and the other machinery of agriculture to see how things have changed since the days of the ox plow.  The image originally part of this page included a windmill, an early form of energy technology.  Now, in contrast we have enormous hydroelectric installations and the extremely advanced though dangerous nuclear power stations. But we still use chance encounters, engagements and marriages to organize our home life and the raising of children.  The ways in which we find jobs, places to live, schools and universities, friends, spouses, and all aspects of our social environment is still largely a matter of chance or of taking the path of least resistance.

In many ways our current social technology is harmful.  We might notice the Internet job-finding sites, like Monster.com, dating sites like e-Harmony.com, and even the popular FaceBook, which seem advanced to many people of my generation who grew up without the Internet at all and certainly not the WorldWide Web.   I claim that there is very little science behind such social technology and so such services often do more harm than good.   They seem to me to be similar to medical practices of earlier centuries where bacteria and viruses were unknown.  Doctors in those days often did more harm than good, so that seeing a doctor was often a fatal mistake.  To be more specific, such matching services do not collect enough information for plausible modelling of their customers, then use what they have in a dangerous way, by ignoring the first derivative of whatever compatibility and suitability estimates they make.  They often match people to jobs or other people because according to the limited data they collect such matches seem suitable, but they ignore the rate of change of the factors they collect and so the rate of change in the matchings they estimate.  What seems to be a good match one year may be terrible a year later because of the way the various factors change.

Matching of people to jobs, other people, etc. is only one aspect of social technology, and it may best be considered as an aspect of the search for bandwidth, or information flow.  Information technology, such as that which drives the Internet is concerned with what me called the gross information flow, the overall amount of information flowing, while what is important for social technology is, by contrast, the net information flow, the amount of information actually absorbed and used by people.  Net net bandwidth, if one can pardon the play on words, is what matters most.  It dependent on the channels of communication between people, which are established and maintained by social technology.  At the current time these channels are just as often disrupted as successfully established by the primitive social tech we have. Please see Social Technology through Diagrams for more information about this, illustrated with the aid of diagrams.

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Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2009, Douglas Pardoe Wilson

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