The Social Machine

Judith Donath

Published by

MIT Press





Reviewed by

A P Sutcliffe PG Dip CCI, MBCS


9 out of 10

Social media has become an important part of countless people’s lives; and for many organisations, it is an important way to engage with their users and clients, due to the benefits that come with the additional interaction and collaboration that are part of this new means of communication.

This book is a comprehensive study of social media and how it has grown in importance to our modern society. It is an exceptionally thorough examination of the many aspects of online interaction, walking the reader through many of the different types of products and highlighting how these have developed.

Amongst other topics, it covers the sociological issues, design concepts, principles of security and privacy, uses of game and role playing; and it also tackles a number of the concerns relating to the ethical use of the newer technology.

In addition, it compares and contrasts the development of older communications media to the growth of the internet as a new form of information transmission technology, providing some highly useful appraisals of the various types of products and their attraction to businesses as well as the consumer.

Part of the book is devoted to the various methods of analysing the different types of interaction. It introduces some interesting and informative techniques that could be of tremendous value to organisations that need to understand more about the effectiveness of their strategies; and the book discusses a number of ways to analyse the data and how to present it in a visual format that produces some fascinating and quite attractive results.

There are parts of the book that might indicate it was part of a doctoral thesis; however, it is still extremely readable. Although there is a significant amount of technical information, it is clearly written so that the points made can easily be followed by someone that is relatively new to this field.

I found it to be a truly engaging and enjoyable read; with a lot of highly valuable information, presented in such a way as to invite the reader to question some of their prior assumptions.

Due to its size, it might be seen as slightly intimidating; but overall, it is a work of considerable value and importance. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that is responsible for the development or management of a social media strategy, in any size of organisation.

Further information: MIT Press

October 2014