Tuesday, April 5, 2011

08 Solving Social Dilemmas

Hypothetical situations such as The Prisoners’ Dilemma (where two or more acquaintances are involved in a crime, interrogated and then have four possible choices as to whether or not to stick to their stories or turn in their friends) or the Tragedy of the Commons happen in daily life situations when people make decisions in regards to the interactions with one another based on trust and reciprocity.
People in groups with more social capital (connections within and between social networks) fare better in many different aspects, such as health and happiness, than those in groups with less social capital. After some people read the results of Putnam’s study, some decided to do what they could to reverse the current decline in social capital.
The Internet is becoming embedded in our real life, and since society likes to be involved in social situations, it continues to grow and grouping people together creates the sense of socializing over the web.
Scott Heiferman created Meetup (a website designed to help people fine each other online and then meet up in real life). To his surprise, the most active groups that developed were Witches, Pagans, and Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses. These groups typically had trouble meeting in a real world society that did not accept them, but could find others like them through the Internet and sites such as Meetup.  Stay At Homes Moms is also a popular group on Meetup, due to their lack of time to get together during the week and to be able to socialize with other moms who are not meeting people through their work.
Sorting the good groups from the bad groups is hard because we are used to social disapproval making it hard for groups to form, for example groups like Pro-Ana (encouraging anorexia).
Improved freedom of assembly causes three types of loss:
    1. loss to people whose jobs relied on solving a formerly hard problem (copying and distributing information)
    2. damage to current social bargains (who is the media and what controls should be put on it?)
    3. Networked organizations are more resilient as a result of better communications tools and more flexible social structures (most important- what are we going to do about the negative effects of freedom- access to terrorists or criminal gangs?)
Forming groups is easy, but it also brings about good and bad groups. How society then goes about filtering the good from the bad or preventing groups from existing is a problem we must face.

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