Posts tagged digital age
Posts tagged digital age
“The bystander effect also extends beyond reality and into cyberspace. Specifically, in a study performed by Markey (2000), the experiment focused on the amount of time it took a bystander to provide assistance. The researchers examined the effects of the gender of an individual seeking help by measuring participant response time (dependent variable). The perceived gender was manipulated by the usage of a male or female screen name in an Internet chat room (independent variable). The treatment conditions examined the number of people present in the chat (two to nineteen), and then asked the stimulus question: “Can anyone tell me how to look at someone’s profile?” The findings reflect a correlation between the number of people present in a computer-mediated chat group and the amount of time it took for an individual to receive help. The higher the number of participants, the longer it took for someone to help. This research reveals that bystander interventions in Internet chat groups reflect the same patterns as interaction in non-computer based environments.” source: http://www.psychwiki.com/wiki/Bystander_Effect (via The Bystander Effect: Old Experiments Still Relative To Today’s Social Influences)
I think it’s absolutely fascinating when we find that the digital world does not, in fact, change basic sociological tendencies. That somehow, despite the incredible factual difference between interacting with someone face-to-face and interacting via a computer, the social interactions remain basically the same. I guess that seems obvious, but, to copy a phrase, “everything’s obvious once you know the answer”.
Technologists tend to believe that we are actually smarter for having these gadgets, and that as they permeate the texture of modern life, we will grow smarter still. That’s a collective, grand, slightly murky, we. Bernardo Huberman, scientific director of the Sand Hill Labs — a new Hewlett-Packard research center — talks about harnessing social knowledge, “studying the whole Internet ecosystem and designing novel mechanisms and institutions so that we can harvest the distributed knowledge: that such a gigantic social mind is producing.”
We don’t have to become neurons in the New World brain to feel that we’re already gaining something. I have noticed that the mobile-gadget wielder develops the odd sensation of being entitled to all sort of facts. You get in the habit of knowing things, or at least of being able to find out. It’s as if there’s a permanent mental hotline to the information specialists at the public library. Can’t quite identify Bob Dole’s running mate in 1996 or that actor up on the screen or a science-fiction story encountered 10 years ago? You get a twitchy feeling that you ought to push a button and pop up the answer.
But Huberman has more in mind than facts and trivia. His research consistently finds informal communities making better decisions than any of their members, knowing more and thinking better than experts. “We now know that society can work better than any individual,” he says. “There is this notion of a collective mind, a social mind, and today the Internet allows us to tap that.” We are distributing intelligence. We are creating social organisms that carry out continuous computation.