• Nigel Shadbolt
  • Kieron O’Hara
  • David De Roure
  • Wendy Hall
Part of the Lecture Notes in Social Networks book series (LNSN)


This chapter considers the theory of social machines, from three perspectives. First, it looks at social machines as social; second, as machines; third, it takes the perspective of the data that fuels the machines. Looking at the sociality of social machines, the chapter considers various approaches to developing meaningful narratives around the operation of social machines, including prosopography, wayfaring and study of information tokens across platforms in transcendental information cascades. The issues surrounding the feedback loops of reflexivity are considered, as are the need for diversity and the possibility of so-called Mandevillian intelligence, where the collective intelligence of the group is enhanced, not degraded, by the imperfect reasoning of its participants. Looking at the mechanical aspects of social machines, the chapter considers the use of a formal process language the Lightweight Social Calculus (LSC) to map out the potential interactions between participants and technology support. The specification of shadow institutions using LSC is described, as is the use of a simplified diagrammatic calculus called Sociograms to allow the design of LSC specifications. From the data perspective, the chapter looks at annotation and provenance. In particular, it maps out a provenance methodology for keeping records about where data have come from, over which data scientists can reason. The chapter concludes with two examples of the use of provenance to understand social machines, and two examples of the use of social machines to create provenance records.


Annotation Citizen science CyberMadres Data Data citation Galaxy Zoo Green peas Lightweight Coordination Calculus (LCC) Lightweight Social Calculus (LSC) Mandevillian intelligence Narrative Open data Planet Hunters Pokémon Go! Prosopography PROV Provenance Reflexivity Retweeting Scholarly communication Shadow institutions Sociograms Transcendental information cascades Wayfaring Wikipedia Zooniverse 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nigel Shadbolt
    • 1
  • Kieron O’Hara
    • 2
  • David De Roure
    • 3
  • Wendy Hall
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Electronics and Computer ScienceUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  3. 3.Oxford eResearch CentreUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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