, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 147–166 | Cite as

‘Social’ systems: designing digital systems that support social intelligence

  • Thomas EricksonEmail author
Original Article


Large groups of people exhibit social intelligence: coherent behavior directed towards individual or collective goals. This paper examines ways in which such behavior is produced in face to face situations, and discusses how it can be supported in online systems used by geographically distributed groups. It describes the concept of a “social proxy,” a minimalist visualization of the presence and activities of participants in an online interaction that is used to make online social norms visible. It summarizes experience with an implemented system, presents conceptual designs that illustrate the range of situations to which social proxies can be applied, and discusses how to go about designing these types of visualizations.


Social Norm Audience Member Social Intelligence Coherent Behavior Social Collective 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Thanks to those involved in the Babble and Loops projects: Erin Bradner, Jason Ellis, Brent Hailpern, Christine Halverson, Wendy Kellogg, Mark Laff, Peter Malkin, John Richards, David N. Smith, Jeremy Sussman, Cal Swart, Tracee Wolf, and several generations of users. And thanks to my IBM colleagues in the Social Computing and Next Generation Web Interface groups for support and inspiration.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social Computing GroupIBM T.J. Watson Research CenterMinneapolisUSA

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