Here's an article about a panel discussion in the U.K. where the panel members presented their views on how social software will manipulate people into being better citizens.
Article17 June 2003, Spiked Online magazine
by Martyn Perks
Here are the last two paragraphs:
The beef of the social software evangelists, perhaps, is democracy itself - because they refuse to trust individuals to make the right choices. All we are left with, then, is a belief in participation for its own sake, devoid of any content or realised goal. How could anyone hope such a model will change society for the better?
It is unfortunate that the more we grasp of the potential of technology to solve problems, the more technology geeks want to play social engineers.
I just sent this email to Martyn Perks:
I read with interest your article about the panel discussion. Your last comment is excellent: "It is unfortunate that the more we grasp of the potential of technology to solve problems, the more technology geeks want to play social engineers."
I see much of what is being done and called social software right now as "20 guys blogging each other". The technology industry is well-known to be exclusionist, elitist, and women-unfriendly, but the frenzy these 20 guys have worked themselves up to, and gotten to the head of the class thru blogging each other, is unprecedented.
I would appreciate it you would look at a couple things on my website www.typaldos.com: The "12 Principles of Civilization" which are based solely on sociological principles, and my presention titled "The Future of Professional Guilds".
The the latter presentation I rate a number of the social networking websites against the 12 Principles and they come up woefully inadequate.
The internet is just another tool for us to use, not a tool to change or manipulate us. It is powerful, as are the alphabet and the telephone, but it will not change our basic behaviors and instincts which have served us well for millions of years.
By the way, the very top Principle (they are formed in a pyramid) is Purpose.