Here I sit at my corporate headquarters (i.e., a coffee shop) and work away.
I sit. I key.
In fact, I realize there’s a bunch of other people, sitting - and keying. I realized they’re super-connected with other people, elsewhere. Occasionally I catch familiar screen-shots: Facebook. Twitter. TweetDeck. You know the picture.
Just what am I observing?
Years past, socializing sounded loud. Mouths flapped. Sounds came out. People laughed. Today’s social language often consists of “clickity-click-click”.
What does all this mean? Maybe something. Maybe nothing. Maybe everything.
I’m prompted to explore the root meaning of the word “social”.
Wikipedia provided some clues. For starters, it points out that social is a “fuzzy concept” i.e., “a concept in which the content, value, or boundaries of application can vary according to context or conditions, instead of being fixed once and for all”.
Interesting. Even intellectually challenging. If the word social is fuzzy and variable based on context or condition… well then, today it must be super-duper-fuzzy since the context of socializing has changed so dramatically in recent history.
I read further: “Social” relates to the attitudes, orientations, or behaviors that take the interests, intentions, or needs of other people into account. Basically, “social” is about the other and our relationship with each other. It is the basis of many things in our civilization:
He defined a social system as “a mode of organization of action elements relative to the persistence or ordered processes of change of the interactive patterns of a plurality of individual actors”.
Ouch. My brain hurts.
I read further.
Parsons argued that a social system is faced by two major problems. One is the (external) problem of the production and allocation of scarce resources; the other is the (internal) problem of achieving social order or integration. This notion gave rise to Parson's famous development of four sub-systems, which respond to the external and internal ‘functional prerequisites of a system of action’, namely adaptation (economy), goal-attainment (polity), integration (societal community), and latency (socialization). This was defined as the AGIL model of the social system. These subsystems are connected by flows of inputs and outputs, which Parsons called ‘media of exchange’ (Economy and Society, 1956). These are money (A), power (G), influence (I), and commitments (L). The equilibrium of a social system depends on these complex exchanges between the various subsystems.
GORDON MARSHALL. "systems theory." A Dictionary of Sociology. 1998. Encyclopedia.com. 22 Feb. 2010 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.
Super-ouch. My brain really hurts now.
So I ask myself, “What are the implications?”
Regardless, one can argue the following:
As you type, tweet or text “I just took a shower”… it might feel trivial, but by default, you’re part of a global network that is collectively and individually changing the world, as we know it - and how we might know it in the future.
February 23, 2010
Cat-Strat | MEDIA