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New book ‘The Theory and Practice of Social Machines’ published


A new book ‘The Theory and Practice of Social Machines’ has been published. The book features research from the SOCIAM project, in which the Department of Computer Science was a partner. 

The term "Social Machines" was introduced by Tim Berners-Lee in 1999. They comprise networks of people and devices at scale, their overall behaviour emerging from the interaction of humans and our computing infrastructure. Social Machines harness the power of the crowd, enabling anyone to potentially contribute – to generate content, cooperate on tasks, exchange information, or simply interact for work or pleasure.

Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt was the Principal Investigator on the project and is a co-author of the book. He says, 'Social machines such as the global encyclopaedia Wikipedia, systems to carry out Citizen Science such as Galaxy Zoo or support humanitarian relief such as Ushahidi, augment our intelligence and extend our human abilities. They promise to help us address the challenges we face in the 21st century. Our book describes how these systems emerge, how they can be improved, new types designed and what opportunities and challenges they present us with'.

The book, co-authored with Kieron O'Hara, David De Roure and Wendy Hall is the fullest and most comprehensive discussion of Social Machines written to date. It appears as part of the Lecture Notes in Social Networks series.

The SOCIAM project, which was directed by Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt in the Department of Computer Science, ran from 2012-18 and was funded by EPSRC. The academic partners were the University of Oxford, University of Southampton, and University of Edinburgh.

Read more about the research project here:

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