Social Efficiency: Rules for Designing Social Networks and Social Media

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Social Efficiency: Rules for Designing Social Networks and Social Media

Online social networks and social media are displacing traditional centrally organized media. More significantly, social media now represent the largest area of new information technology (IT) investment in many industries.

Companies and government see these new social media tools as ways to deliver better customer services, create better designs more cheaply, and provide better oversight and regulation. Unfortunately, we don’t yet understand fully how to design social media so that they can accomplish these lofty goals. At its core, this design problem involves understanding how the actions of many individuals can be reliably combined to produce the desired outcomes.

In the column article written by Dr. Alex “Sandy” Pentland at MIT, a novel view point “social efficiency” is brought to our attention. It is recognized as a useful template for answering these design questions about social media. In this article, various issues are discussed, such as whether the open market method for achieving social efficiency will hurt privacy and whether the design principles of social efficiency should consider the time dynamics of the social network systems. For readers who want to think about the fundamentals of social network design, please read the column article by Dr. Pentland in the March issue of IEEE Signal Processing Magazine.


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