Social Software, Groups, and Governance

39 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2005

See all articles by Michael J. Madison

Michael J. Madison

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law


Formal groups play an important role in the law. Informal groups largely lie outside it. Should the law be more attentive to informal groups? The paper argues that this and related questions are appearing more frequently as a number of computer technologies, which I collect under the heading social software, increase the salience of groups. In turn, that salience raises important questions about both the significance and the benefits of informal groups. The paper suggests that there may be important social benefits associated with informal groups, and that the law should move towards a framework for encouraging and recognizing them. Such a framework may be organized along three dimensions by which groups arise and sustain themselves: regulating places, things, and stories.

Keywords: Groups, computer software, salience, innovation, governance, narrative, place, artifacts, STS, cognitive science

Suggested Citation

Madison, Michael J., Social Software, Groups, and Governance. Michigan State Law Review, Vol. 2006, p. 153, 2006, Available at SSRN:

Michael J. Madison (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law ( email )

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