Ferreting Out Silences and Invisibilities in Electronic Hive Minds: Identifying Absent/Non-Present, Latent/Hidden, and Shadowed/Obfuscated Messaging

Ferreting Out Silences and Invisibilities in Electronic Hive Minds: Identifying Absent/Non-Present, Latent/Hidden, and Shadowed/Obfuscated Messaging

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9369-0.ch002

Abstract

An electronic hive mind (EHM), as a distributed swarm intelligence, is about shared information and resources and the interactions around those elements. A lesser-studied aspect in such electronic-enabled collectives involves unshared information, silences, withholdings, and other invisibilities. What is shared depends on socio-technical systems and how people engage and think socially, and these factors result in various absences, latencies, and shadowing of messaging. Here, an early mechanism-based approach is taken to understand the inflows and outflows of information from an EHM and areas where messages may be unformed, dropped, misapprehended, or obfuscated, resulting in knowledge gaps. Finally, this thought experiment suggests that EHMs should be understood as constructs with shimmering and incomplete versions of reality, and “what you see is all there is” (WYSIATI) would be an illusory approach.
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Review Of The Literature

Exploration of various types of electronic hive minds (EHMs), in their various forms, shows that the shared information is partial, depending on the membership and what they choose to share, in part (Hai-Jew, 2019). Those who run the respective social media platforms “set its rules” (Singer & Brooking, 2018, p. 21) and also affect what may or may not be shared through them for different EHMs. The social groupings found online vary in terms of their homogeneity and their heterogeneity, their homophilous or heterophilous aspects, and other dimensions. When people make social connections, offline and offline, it is often based on preferential connections, resulting in assortativity or assortative mixing. On social networks, attractiveness can be parlayed into social capital. Those who are more attractive can “exploit social network opportunities differently than less attractive people and, consequently, their networks will comprise more beneficial features” (O’Connor & Gladstone, 2018, p. 42). People apparently have natural limits to the numbers of people they can include in their social networks (or “trust networks”), topping out at about 150, based on the Dunbar number.

The number of people we know personally, whom we can trust, whom we feel some emotional affinity for, is no more than 150, Dunbar’s Number. It has been 150 for as long as we have been a species. And it is 150 because our minds lack the capacity to make it any larger. (Dunbar, 2010, p. 4).

In immersive virtual worlds, where people may engage in more full sensory ways, people may be more susceptible to the “immersive parasocial” or the illusion of the existence of a (non-existent) two-way relationship with another person represented through a digital avatar (Hai-Jew, Sept. 2009). This suggests that those with large followings may have outsized impacts on what others think, say, and act.

On social media platforms, people share information, socialize with others, build and maintain relationships, strive to find support for their actions, and spark others’ to actions. They may manifest differently on different social media platforms depending on the technological affordances there and the sense of community and the individuals and groups there. They may lurk in some spaces or engage heavily in others.

One way to understand sociality online is to explore electronic hive minds, described as

a synchronous temporal and informal patchwork of emergent shared social consciousness (held by geographically distributed people, cyborgs, and robots) enabled by online social connectivity (across a range of social media platforms on the Web and Internet), based around various dimensions of shared attractive interests. (Hai-Jew, 2019, Preface, Electronic Hive Minds…)

It is possible to explore EHMs in part by the contents that are shared and are publicly available, with the understanding though that some of the contents are manifest and some latent.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Deception: Purposeful misleading of others through the providing of untruths or misinformation.

Swarm Intelligence: Collective intelligence from decentralized egos and entities.

Electronic Hive Mind: A synchronous temporal and informal patchwork of emergent shared social consciousness (held by geographically distributed people, cyborgs, and robots) enabled by online social connectivity (across a range of social media platforms on the web and internet), based around various dimensions of shared attractive interests.

Confirmation Bias: A human tendency to over-weight information that aligns with prior beliefs.

Latency: Hiddenness.

Cognitive Bias: Systematic subjectivities in engaging the world (vs. more rationalist approaches).

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