Social software is political science in executable form.

One of the biggest surprises about building Recipezaar has been the creation of the community. Our community is probably more important than our content, and the technology we create to support it is certainly our greatest value. Clay Shirky articulates feelings I have had about the most interesting (and sometimes most difficult) part of that work:

“Further complicating all of this are the feedback loops created when a group changes its behavior in response to changes in software. Because of these effects, designers of social software have more in common with economists or political scientists than they do with designers of single-user software, and operators of communal resources have more in common with politicians or landlords than with operators of ordinary web sites.”

(He gives a brief history of social software and notes that in 20 years of email most improvements have been on the administration side “rather than making it easier for the group using the software to accomplish anything” which is something I completely agree with from my Outlook days.)

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