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Posted at 5:47 pm in Psychology,Sociology

To give me some ideas of what chapters to focus on when studying the very large introductory texts on my chosen topics – sociology and psychology I scanned over two books for current ideas into online societies.

1. Reputation in Online Societies, Roasari Conte and Mario Paolucci.

Subject of the book was an investigation into a set of intertwined phenomena: image, reputation and gossip, that play a vital role in societies. The books main conviction is that this same or analogous set is likely to promote the development of information and technology societies.

I found this book difficult to read, very technical and I believe it was just a phD thesis that had just been dumped into book form, with little care for layout of chapters, themes and conclusions.

Also the book is more concerned about user-agents rather than actual physical people as authors wanted to test their hypotheses about behaviour using computer user-agents. This book was not as useful to my review as its title had originally suggested.

2.The Rise of the Network society, Manuell Castells

This book was better structured and had some good insights into why individuals sometimes join societies. One of the ideas put forward is that it is part of the search for new connectedness around shared, reconstructed identity. Also that shift from mechanical to information technologies has subverted our notions of sovereignty and self-sufficiency that had provided us with some anchoring for individual identity since two millennia ago. This search for new connectedness was found not only to exist in West but also in East where in Japan in 1995, the young highly educated generation exhibited an almost desperate need to build a new collective self, significantly mixing spirituality and global business relations.

Also I have been reading World Brain by HG Wells, to see how ideas for highly connected societies with collective outputs occupied the thoughts of a famous science fiction writer, who was writing in age before the information technology society of late 1900s even existed. My initial conclusions is that HG Wells was an unwavering optimist, and that part of reasons that many of his predictions and hopes have never been realised is that humans and human societies are imperfect, and due to their large population size the voices of a few luminaries often gets drowned out in the crowd.

Actions decided for next week:

Find most useful key themes for society’s values, cultures and norms from core textbooks and  start to find links to further related material

Next week I will do a more controlled approach, instead of looking for proof of how online communities are found to be similar or else unlike traditional physical communities, I will look at case studies or examples of each and do my own comparing and contrasting. This is because after an initial search of library there is little or no material about this particular theme. While this makes it harder to back up and verify any conclusions it will at least mean I will be adding new knowledge to an interesting Web Science related theme.

Written by cm7e09 on February 19th, 2010

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