RANDOM CONJECTURES REGARDING THE DESIGN OF SOCIAL NETWORKS. Part 1. ... [ Word Count: 2.850, ~ 12 PAGES | Revised: 2019.9.3 ]





Some further considerations regarding:

Social network theory.

This series of posts begin simply and will slowly become increasingly technical. It tries to identify what is more relevant and what is less relevant in constructing a robust, useful, and pleasant social network. Social networks tend to fail in these respects for more reasons than an initial lack of sufficiently many users. We consider these reasons.


      Word count: 2.000, ~ 8 PAGES   |   Revised: 2019.9.3



— 〈  1  〉—

Comprehending the problems of a social network.



— 〈  1.A  〉—

First things first: Productivity is mostly just peace.


That is not a metaphor.


Why free speech? Because words are the only way to diffuse, to resolve conflicts without violence. Because words are not actions---they are not violence. They are a different, desirable type of thing in any situation, even when the specific words used are undesirable in a situation. No combination of words will produce the other, undesirable type of thing that is violence. When speech is more and more controlled or censored, when speaking is restricted, the only means remaining to resolve conflicts becomes more and more violence. That is enormously undesirable. Markets and places where speakers can speak freely are not themselves especially productive because of what they are other than that they are free. When the players of a game must fight they cannot work. If they work anyway, their work is interrupted by fighting. They cannot get things done. Which is profoundly unproductive. The poverty that produces creates more fighting. And then that cycle, that winding road, is the most direct path leading to failure as if failure were a goal. Failure is not and should not be the goal of any journey.

Whatever productivity there is mostly comes from that freedom. Not specifically and not so much from the other parts of market mechanism. Not from the rules of the place where the speaking occurs; not from the rules of the forum. The market mechanism other than the part of it that is freedom is more productive than many others, but it is not itself especially productive. Not grokking this fact leads to the human construction of systems that fail and such that, when they fail, the builders believe it was less successful than anticipated for other reasons than why it actually was less successful than anticipated.

That is why a generic feedback mechanism divorced from aspects which contribute genuine peace fails to give much additional productivity when transplanted into other contexts as if a general algorithm for self-organization: the price system other than the part of it that is freedom, while feedback, true, is simply not really an extraordinarily productive algorithm. For example, the market mechanism besides the part that makes for peace is not magic and works well primarily when the actor agent who knows that is the correct thing to do, the correct thing to produce, is also somebody who is already wealthy enough to simply act on their own knowledge and do it. It does not work well when superior knowledge is possessed by those who lack the means to unilaterally use it such that the benefits of unilateral action exceed the costs of unilateral action. And contrary to most assumptions, due to specialization, those who did well in the past and anticipated events best and therefore do have the wealth to act alone, are not most likely the ones who will, next, anticipated events best in the future. Yet the feedback part of markets give more opportunities to those who begin with more wealth---meanwhile things change and more often than not somebody who is not wealthy enough to do anything with the correct idea, even if not poor, is the one who gets the idea. Others who are wealthy enough to use it do not get the correct idea. And they can't invest in what they don't grok, what they don't understand. That is simply too risky. Risk is mostly about control. Even where it's easy and quick to obtain wealthy losing wealth is even easier and can occur even more quickly. It takes knowledge to evaluate knowledge; they who have it don't need it, and those who don't have it cannot properly value it, cannot evaluate, cannot invest sufficiently much in it, except by accident. Therefore more often than not those who have the knowledge how to act correctly lack the opportunity to act correctly. Others who have the opportunity act incorrectly. They also cannot do otherwise than act incorrectly.

There are good business ideas at many different classes of wealth that actors must possess to begin with in order to act on such ideas. No such thing as a good business idea in the sense of pure knowledge exists. Even though it is the same strategy, the same knowledge, what is a good business idea for one actor is a bad business idea for another actor. Ideas themselves are only coarsely, vaguely good or bad business ideas, but whether good or bad more precisely depends on who is the one that gets this idea...and that is not magic...that is a problem. System where the who does matters more than does what typically have too weak feedback. Feedback is defined on behavior. On results. Not on who does the behavior.

There is no ladder to climb: actor agents are, more often than not, simply in the wrong social class when they do decide correctly, even if otherwise sufficiently wealthy, to meaningfully use their superior knowledge when they actually have superior knowledge, e.g., about what consumers actually want, about what should be done or what should not be done, considering what that knowledge requires to use it. And not being able to use their superior knowledge when they actually have superior knowledge others do not have and cannot evaluate, they don't use it and things don't improve and they are not rewarded and do they move into a social class where they could use their superior knowledge. No: this is not productive. No: the market mechanism other than that part which is freedom is not an especially good mechanism for allocating information---for making better instead of worse decisions. In the positioning literature it was known that a producer more often than not does not grow along a ladder by detecting market opportunities. There is no continuity. There are many good productive opportunities at different levels of initial costs and knowledge is not enough: if you are actually correct in anticipating demand and knowing exactly how to satisfy it, this must also correspond to your own, individual resources. There is an ability to borrow, but not often to borrow beyond your social class, say, an order or two orders of magnitude more resources than you have when you obtain the correct knowledge.

Comment. Basically, the problem here is the tight dependence of acting according to the best information on variables that have nothing to do with the problem potentially being solved by acting according to that information. A price system rewards acting on correct information. Not having correct information. Not merely anticipating---perhaps correctly---the wants of consumers but only the actual satisfaction of those wants after they are correctly anticipated. The anticipating or knowing the truth is an intermediate step so far as feedback or redistributing resources to those who made the best decisions in the past is concerned. The problem is that thresholds exist to doing this or that. Action cannot be done without using sufficient resources. These may be orders of magnitude more than the actor already has. And that actor more often than not cannot borrow the difference between what he has and what is needed:---a correct anticipation of events, like other knowledge, is hard to evaluate, without those who don't already have that knowledge being able to the results of action according to it. But here there are no results yet because resources to act are insufficient. Those who don't already have that knowledge can't distinguish between knowledge worth acting upon and knowledge not worth acting upon easily and therefore discount all knowledge to the extent that other knowledge is probably incorrect, which means they will tend to offer less resources to those who don't already have them, who only have the knowledge, too few resources to successfully act on knowledge that is in fact correct. Reputation isn't useful because most such problems and solutions are unique. The sums involved are typically too large for warranties and insurance to solve the problem. However, the price system and the market, unlike command and control, doesn't require permission to act on correct knowledge that is actually correct, which is a reason why the price system is far more productive that command and control despite this flaw of fatal path dependence. In a system operating according to command and control, actually correct knowledge that comes into the hands of anyone other than those who control is entirely forbidden from being acted upon even if the actor has sufficient resources, because additionally permission is required. Those systems are per se centralized because fully distributed algorithms, which have only message passing, have only requests and password-like objects, no real proper permissions or locks. Centralized system are even more unproductive because they are even more about who knows and who does, not what is correct to do and what is done. And command and control system cannot solve the issue of path dependence either; evaluators still cannot endorse what they do not grok, except in command and control, even worse, anything that evaluators cannot grok is outright forbidden rather than merely not supported when found below a threshold of being done.

Knowledge is not power. Those who have no power and only the pen write and say knowledge is power mostly because they do not have it. The grapes they cannot reach are sour---it is that kind of argument.

Little knowledge is requisite for power. Organization and a concentration of force is requisite for power. That is easily achieved without much knowledge. Knowledge is not required to rule. Most who rule don't have it---although if they had it they would probably find it useful. Knowledge is least of all useful to those who lack sufficient power or wealth. Most of the absolutely enormous productivity and efficiency of the market is not because of the market mechanism but because it is free. It's free and peaceful, allowing processes that take a long time to complete, the more productive, round-about activities that produce more things in the same but longer time than many interrupted activities filling that same time, in the same way buying and waiting for construction equipment will lead to more earth being moved than beginning digging immediately with shovels, given enough time. The same way delaying the start of digging and going to a store and buying a shovel or making a shovel and digging with the shovel starting later will move more earth than beginning digging immediately with hands, given enough time. Longer activities are not always more productive and not all more productive activities are longer, but the longer an activity can be the more productive it can be. The rest is randomness and noise. Noise and chance, during peace, make peace productive. But the productivity is mostly due to peace. When there is a lack of freedom to trade, the players of a game begin fighting. Then longer production processes cannot be done, much like when the players of a game are fighting because they cannot resolve their conflicts by speaking freely.

Peace that is the result of freedom and not at the expense of freedom is the greatest part of efficiency and productivity and success and human achievement. All the rest is mostly, simply there.

Any successful system must allow and privilege longer productive activities, especially longer collaborate productive activities, allow and encourage them to be done: to proceed and to complete and not be interrupted by the players of the game fighting.

Fighting to prevent and stop fighting is also not very productive---there must be no recourse against it but then those who would fight to prevent fighting recognize they could easily fight to resolve conflicts always in their favor even when they are wrong, especially when they are wrong, and then they begin fights rather than end them and there is nothing to stop them from fighting and the only production processes that remain viable are the shorter ones that can complete sooner than interruptions occur; these are mostly not very productive activities. Longer activities cannot dare to begin and expect not to be interrupted when there is no logic to the system and logic however only exists when power is matches and the players of the game must persuade each other, cannot force each other to do anything. Nature has a logic because no part of nature can force another part of nature to do anything, only as if persuade it to do whatever it shall do by doing something according to the logic of the statistics of nature, which are apparently the statistics of random measurements, and not something contrary to the logic of the statistics of nature. It is as if no part of nature is more powerful than any other part, and that is, somewhat vaguely, why the smallest parts of nature all seem to follow the same rules without an exception.

Flatness is an important cause of peace.

If a player in a game is sufficiently more powerful, they can always force the other players to do something without persuading them and there is no logic in that system. Social system that aim at productivity---not reduction of uncertainty or mere survival, which come in many flavors, most utterly terrible because they are profoundly unproductive---must be peaceful and peaceful because the players of the game can trade freely instead of fighting to resolve differences and speak freely to resolve conflicts of interest instead of simply having the conflict of interest and attacking each other.

In a social network on the internet the problem of actual violence is significantly less than in places where the players of a game actually meet. True; but even in a social network there are behaviors that are analogous to violence in the sense that they similarly enough affect productivity and success of the whole system. So a constant question that does not go away is how to inhibit these kinds of behaviors. First of all: by free speech.

Which leads us to the conjecture that somehow moderation and censorship must be entirely avoided in the next big thing in social networks. The algorithms used are then only the next question---they cannot substitute for lack of peace-making attributes like genuine free speech and free exchange in the social network. All the other attributes of feedback systems are not able to substitute for them in their absence.


— 〈  1.B  〉—



Will either continue here today or in another post.


I'm a scientist who writes science fiction under various names.

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