Many of these links are broken. Consider trying them anyway.
I think that what I am trying to accomplish in these pages could happen without any further contributions from me, if I could just get certain groups of people talking to one another. For example, I’d like to get experts in sociometry, people who draw graphs called sociograms to describe existing social connections, talking to graph theorists and experts in combinatorial optimization who know about algorithms for matching nodes and for maximizing network flow. And I’d like to get both of those groups of people talking to futurists and others concerned with the way the world is likely to change.
To encourage such discussions I will be adding an annotated page of links to follow, but I until that is ready, here are just a few such links:
The world today faces many problems, and a good place to start is by listing them. World problems is one of many pages devoted to the collection and analysis of information about world problems, especially the causal relationships between problems. Of particular interest is description of causal loops in which current social problems reinforce each other.
Will humanity solve any of those problems? One serious attempt to predict the future is the deep future page , by J.R. Mooneyham. This futurist predicts a world with lots of technical advances in robotics, aviation, space travel, and so on, but nothing new in the area that I call social technology — and therefore, it is a future of social unrest and unhappiness.
Requiem is Jay Hanson’s pessimistic look at a future in which almost everything goes wrong because of corporate greed, political weakness, and other problems with what I think of as old low-tech social technology. He calls his website “www.dieoff.org”, which pretty much summarizes his message.
A much more optimistic view can be found in Factasia , a fascinating blend of utopian thinking with educational material about mathematics, logic, philosophy, and engineering, by Roger Bishop Jones — a person whose interests are very similar to my own. But there the comparison stops, for he has put an enormous amount of work into his pages, which are depressingly impressive, better than anything else I’d seen on the web until recently.
Perhaps the most interesting parallel to my own work on social technology is the Global Ideas Bank of the Institute of Social Inventions. They have also published books full of good ideas, which I have ordered from them and will review as soon as possible.
The journal Social Networks , includes material about Social Network Analysis, and the people who study that topic form a network, the International Network for Social Networks Analysis (INSNA) .
Social Network Analysis has applications to business management, and there are a few professionals consultants specializing in it, such as Valdis Krebs . I think such services could be genuinely beneficial, but I am more skeptical about the willingness of management to facilitate the collection of good data and to properly implement the resulting advice. I regard most businesses and their management structures as as rather archaic forms of social technology that should be replaced with something much more sophisticated, not just supplemented with advice from technically advanced consultants.
Combinatorial optimization was the subject of the recent conference of the ECCO : European Chapter on Combinatorial Optimization , and figures prominently in this list of useful optimization software .
Copyright © 2000 Douglas Pardoe Wilson