The Intel Science and Technology Center for Social Computing (ISTC-Social) is a multi-institution effort to study and invent new forms of social computing. One of the distinguishing aspects of the ISTC-Social is that it is not an engineering project. Rather, the participating researchers bring theories and methods from the social sciences, humanities, and design to critically interpret what social computing is and what social computing could be.
I serve on the Executive Committee and manage the Creativity and Collectivity theme. The ISTC-Social is based at UC Irvine, with collaborators at NYU, Cornell, and Indiana University . At Georgia Tech, the Co-PIS are Ian Bogost and Chris Le Dantec.
WHAT IS THE ISTC-SOCIAL?
Social Computing is the study of information technologies and digital media as social and cultural phenomena.
Since its earliest days, computing has always been a social phenomenon, from people gathered around a screen to play Spacewar to the emergence of email as ARPANET’s “killer app.” As technologies have evolved, so too have the social and cultural issues with which they are entwined. The 21st century Internet is one of social media, social networking, community engagement and cultural connection. The technical challenges of advanced IT development are matched by challenges in understanding the social contexts, cultural practices, and policy questions of technology and digital media, but the predominant research frameworks with which we typically address them are those that emphasize individual experience in interaction.
The Intel Science and Technology Center (ISTC) for Social Computing will establish a new paradigm for computing, moving from the personal to the social. Its hub is at UC Irvine, and its partner (“spoke”) institutions are NYU, Cornell University, Georgia Tech, and Indiana University. In collaboration with researchers from Intel, the Center undertakes research that will identify and develop theories, frameworks, and methods that will drive new scholarly research, new technology prototypes, new policy interventions, and new areas of innovation. The Center will facilitate research and collaboration at the vanguard of the emerging era of massively networked, mobile and cloud computing, while providing tools to understand and build on the history of earlier systems of social and technological interaction.