The technology will not solve the social, but each design decision made in the technology affects the social. There is no formula though, no clear algorithm. No social scientist can predict what social behavior will emerge from each technology you build. But we can make sense out of what is going on and we can help you iterate.
The biggest trick in social software is to realize that, just like we can’t predict the behavior that users will have, we can’t force them into behaving the way we want them to behave while simultaneously giving them freedom to be social. The only thing that we can do is try to understand what is motivating new behaviors and figure out how to adjust the technology accordingly.
Read it yourself. It’s about social theories, YASNs, tech-social interplay and the role of research in this whole thing.
Archived version of this entry is available at http://blog.mathemagenic.com/2004/02/12.html#a1079; comments are here.