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About Social Thinking

«Social Thinking» is the name of a new function on that allows people to comment on, criticize and share almost all the texts on the website in a somewhat unusual form. Keywords such as Social Reading and Open Science provided the inspiration for this extra little feature.

What’s the point of Social Thinking?

A simple commenting function is fully adequate for many websites. In its capacity as a research institute, however, the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society also strives to publish texts that well exceed the standard length and complexity of web texts. Another motive is to enable individuals visiting the website to exchange views and ideas with their authors, in keeping with the objectives of the Open Science movement. Apart from collating remarks and opinions, the declared aim of Social Thinking is accordingly to encourage transparent collaboration on texts based on precise feedback, for which conventional commenting tools might prove to be unsuitable. The function should also be regarded as an experiment: how willing are interested parties to get involved in the ideas presented here? How can scientific or educational texts be incorporated purposefully in feedback loops? And can this kind of function lead to interdisciplinary cooperation on all levels of the internal project structure, too?

How does Social Thinking work?

You can activate the function simply by clicking on the switch on the right-hand side of the screen. Then select the chosen passage of text in the main body of the website you wish to share or comment on. Comments inserted in this way are allotted a designated place in the right-hand sidebar indicated by a blue marking, exactly opposite the line of text concerned.The more people click on them and the more feedback overlaps a certain passage, the darker the shade of blue becomes. If you click on a comment in the sidebar, it pops up and allows more feedback. It is possible to click on and flip through multiple comments of this kind like a card index system, using the blue arrows or the pagination function below.

Data security

The default setting for the Social Thinking tool is normally deactivated as a precaution against
collecting data inadvertently. When Social Thinking is activated, the website creates a file (a so-called “cookie”) on your computer or hand-held device, with the help of which you can record the basic setting «Social Thinking on/off» as well as the name by which you wish to enter your comments (optional). This file is automatically deleted from your browser one month later.

If you enter a comment, the HIIG server will also save the content of your feedback, the time/date and your IP address, if applicable. This record is permanent and can be viewed by the administrators who manage the website. No other particulars are saved, and the data that is recorded can quickly be deleted again on request.

If you have any queries or require further details, please contact:

Martin Pleiss –