Hillary Mason of bit.ly wrote a nice summary of some key issues raised in the recent Search in Social Media 2010 workshop. (For other commentary, see Daniel Tunkelang”s post and our pre-workshop comments.) Hillary asked several important questions, that break out into two main topics: what and how can we compute from social data on one hand, and what are the implications of those computations. Aspects such as computing relevance, how to architect social search engines, and how to represent users’ information needs in appropriate ways all represent the what and how category. We can be sure that adequate engineering solutions will be found these problems.
The second topic, however, is more problematic because it deals more with the impact that technology has on the individual and on society, rather than about technology per se.