The Social Machine of Mathematics

A colleague of my supervisor was involved in this project, which is very interesting indeed – the ‘Social Machine’ notion links up fairly nicely with Hutchins’ collaborative cognitive systems. It looks like they’re working on some collaborative software – I’m going to learn more about that later.

I also learned about Lorenzo Lane, who has been working on a PhD remarkably similar to some of the ideas that I had at the beginning of this project (though it looks like he’s taking it somewhere really interesting!). I might try to get in touch, maybe see what he’s working on.

This has served to raise, and possibly answer, some questions about who this research is for. I’m certainly not in a position to improve the collaborative practices of mathematicians, but I do think there’s something to be done in terms of outlining them in a way that emphasises their necessity, and that that could dramatically alter the way that the public relates to mathematics – understanding it as something personal, usable, controllable, sometimes used to control.


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