Stowe Boyd has a great post on why much of the skepticism about social computing is wide of the mark which he concludes with the following paragraph:
.... our orientation to social tools is a political act. Determining what you believe is good, or right, or what is the purpose of our lives in no small measure will determine whether you think Last.fm, Plazes, or 43places are cool. Participation in open social tools is egalitarian, at least to some extent. Our contributions become somewhat collective rather than personal, and that levels things out. If you are a progressive, and hope for an equalization of the inequities in the world, you might find joy in that participation. If you are conservative, you may view that dilution of personal investment as a sort of tax, or a waste of time. The eventual return of benefits through the generalized network may seem like wishing on a star: the fantasies of dewy-eyed idealist fringe lunatics.
It just struck me that this is the first time that I have even remotely seen a connection between the social in "social computing" and the social in "socialism". As I have said before I was never dawn to conventional bi-polar politics and the over simplification of "up the workers brother" was as unattractive to me as the blue rinse set of conservatism. But maybe, as mentioned in a previous post, we are seeing the emergence of a new way of taking collective responsibility for each other and a concern for the group's welfare over that of the individual that goes beyond either efficiency or the selfish desires of getting laid.