Critics on social software

Bookmarklets | MOVABLE TYPE Bill Thompson on BBC News criticizes social software. Technology analyst Bill Thompson does not think social software will induce any radical societal changes over the next year and a half, and thinks that people should arm themselves against its overhyped promises. However, he argues that the issue of social software has value, because it is encouraging people to discuss the Internet as a tool for relating to each other rather than focusing on its purely technological aspects. Thompson writes, "it is now possible to have a serious debate about the social impact of the Internet without mentioning protocols, packets or programming, and that in itself is significant progress." Unfortunately, he criticizes the way that people consider the myriad products and services that facilitate network interaction as a single instrument, which he calls a Western trend that favors simplicity over the comprehension of complexity. Thompson makes the even more lamentable observation that the people talking about social software have a complete disregard for the last two decades' worth of research into human-machine interaction, not to mention the research into psychology and human-to-human communications that has gone on over the last century. "This lack of awareness of what has been done before means that, by and large, the ongoing debate about social software is generally uninteresting, intellectually shallow and largely irrelevant," Thompson charges. He blames this on the wide availability of online publishing programs, the push to cross-link all comments and debates, and an absence of a historical or research-based viewpoint.