What is Collective Intelligence?


Collective intelligence is a term for the knowledge embedded within societies or large groups of individuals. It can be explicit, in the form of knowledge gathered and recorded by many people; or it can be tacit or implicit, referring to the intelligence that results from the data generated by the activities of many people over time. New and vast information stores are being created in real-time by thousands of people in the course of their daily activities, some explicitly collaborating to create collective knowledge stores, some contributing implicitly through the patterns of their choices and actions. The data in these new information stores has come to be called collective intelligence, and both forms have already proven to be compelling applications of the network. Explicit knowledge stores, such as Wikipedia, refine knowledge through the contributions of thousands of authors; implicit stores allow the discovery of entirely new knowledge by capturing trillions of key clicks and decisions as people use the network in the course of their everyday lives. Google uses tacit data to continuously refine its search and ad results. Discovering and harnessing the intelligence in such data — revealed through analyses of patterns, correlations, and flows — is enabling more accurate predictions about people’s preferences and behaviours, and helping users understand and map relationships, and gauge the relative significance of ideas and events.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • The real power of the Internet is in allowing easy creating of adhoc grouping of people and resources based on intellectual lines. Typically society has been forced to organize based on geographic proximity so this is a revolutionary idea. The upcoming generation of college students are the first generation raised with the Internet so they are likely to be better able to form these communities easily. - andrew.barras andrew.barras Nov 26, 2012Agree - helga helga Nov 29, 2012
  • We are in the business of collective intelligence and yet we have many institutional barriers that limit its effectiveness. One central question here is how we leverage the classroom (and many classrooms) into a collective intelligence environment. Social media is one platform but which social media? How do we create opportunities for inter-disciplinary collective intelligence and use technology to get back to a collegium universalium? - tom.haymes tom.haymes Nov 29, 2012
  • Using collective intelligence smartly by using big data, metadata, location and digital identities has the power to harvest information to create a rich hinterland of related data which will spawn new insights and observations. The internet of things will also feed into collective intelligence not just human thought but 'thing' presence - link to AR etc.- DaveP DaveP Dec 1, 2012
  • For me, Collective Intelligence and Crowdsourcing are two tightly interwoven concepts that are integral parts of contemporary learning; they are also the underpinnings of the drive to engage in face-to-face and online collaborations, as evidenced by the popularity of online social media tools and the continuing drive so many people experience in becoming involved in community-based projects in spite of all the competing options they/we have for the limited discretionary time left to us. Crowdsourcing (see James Surowiecki's The Wisdom of Crowds) is clearly useful in the technologically challenging world we inhabit, and collective intelligence (an issue of great concern and interest to colleagues in the business world), so anything we can do to foster an understanding of and engagement with these two themes among our learners better prepares them to succeed not only in their learning endeavors but in much of what they will probably be attempting to achieve in their workplaces.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Dec 1, 2012
  • Yes, for me too- CI and rowdsourcing are are quite interwoven.- vkumar vkumar Dec 2, 2012vk
  • CI and Crowdsourcing provide a way to productively leverage the agency of the community in network-enabled-open education - peer learning nd assessnment, recommendation systems and processes are manifestations of CI amd crowdsourcing- vkumar vkumar Dec 2, 2012vk

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • The link to non human internet presence - things which add another layer of data and information- DaveP DaveP Dec 1, 2012

  • Share your response here
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, research, or creative inquiry?

  • Crowd sourcing allows splitting a task into small components with very little overhead cost. This means students will be able to divide tasks up among themselves when teachers might be expecting them to do their own work. This also means students will have less concept of ownership of ideas. This is evidenced so far with their more lenient attitude towards intellectual property. - andrew.barras andrew.barras Nov 26, 2012Agree again- helga helga Nov 29, 2012 Better-stated than anything I could have written here; completely agree.- paul.signorelli paul.signorelli Dec 1, 2012
  • Heutagogy!- DaveP DaveP Dec 1, 2012
  • Kania and Kramer (2011) have suggested five conditions that help guide the collection action to ensure the focus does not veer from the path it needs to go. These five conditions include: a common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, and backbone support organizations.
    Common Agenda. Developing a common agenda involves all participants to provide input on the topics that will lead them to change. Having an understanding and background knowledge of the problem commonly produces similar ideas and approaches; however it should be expected that some participants may have diverse thoughts and opinions of the problem as well as the desiredoutcome. The collective actors should discuss any differences and seek resolutions before proceeding in the process as disagreements without resolutions often lead to further differences. Above all, however Kania and Kramer strongly suggest that there is a common consensus on the goal from the beginning as a collective vision of the goal has a tendency to align the path the collective actors take.
    Shared Measurement Systems. From the construction of the agenda, it is necessary to establish a shared measurement system. The collective actors must also agree how to measure and report each task on the agenda. It is at this point in the collective movement process that the collective actors can clearly envisage how, and in what ways, the data that is collected will affect the desired outcome. Shared measurement systems also hold the collective actors accountable, thus providing additional initiative to continued contribution to the group.
    Mutually Reinforcing Activities. All of the collective actors have strengths to contribute. Identifying these strengths is important toward maximizing the success of the group. Further, aligning each person’s strength to the mutually reinforcing activities ensures that the particular facet of the process is covered, thus making it easier to coordinate with the other participants.
    Continuous Communication. One of the core essentials of collective action is the ability to communicate on a regular basis. Ideally, participants should have a history of regular meetings with each other. This collective experience with communication also maximizes the impact of the desired outcome. Based upon the examination of other collective initiatives, Kania and Kramer suggest that the collective group hold meetings bi-weekly or once a month.
    Backbone Support Organizations. Collective action needs a small group of participants with specific skills to manage the collective action process. This group is responsible for administrative tasks that may include: correspondence, setting up meetings, data collection, and reporting. This infrastructure is vital to the organization and facilitation of the process in a timely manner- melissa.burgess melissa.burgess Dec 1, 2012
  • As above:CI and Crowdsourcing provide a way to productively leverage the agency of the community in network-enabled-open education - peer learning nd assessnment, recommendation systems and processes are manifestations of CI amd crowdsourcing- vkumar vkumar Dec 2, 2012vk
  • Unsworth's scholarly primitives - http://people.lis.illinois.edu/~unsworth//Kings.5-00/primitives.html - have traditionally been undertaken by a single person or tightly defined team as part of the process of creating a course. Collective intelligence (and the closely associated crowdsourcing) allows for distributing these functions among multiple individuals in new ways, with varying degrees of formal structure and learner participation. - rubenrp rubenrp Dec 3, 2012

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • Please share information about related projects in our Horizon Project sharing form
  • Some examples of related work:- vkumar vkumar Dec 2, 2012vk
    • 1)n one of our heavily enrolled (250-300 students) foundation-level course CS courses (6.005), the professor uses crowd-sourced review of code by his students as a means of providing detailed feedbac to students. Students write lots of codein this course which is chopped up into chunks and farmed out to students for review. - vkumar vkumarvk
    • Sep Kamvar, Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT and Director of the Social Computing Group at the MIT Media Lab. (erstwhile head of personalization at Google) is doing very interesting work (saw a recent presentation) on the design of collective intelligence in two different areas: Information Visualization and Programming Languages with a focus on human-centered design and collective expression.- vkumar vkumar Dec 2, 2012vk
    • TopCoder chops its clients’ IT projects into bite-size chunks and offers them to its worldwide community of developers in the form of competitive challenges. http://www.topcoder.com/ - vkumar vkumar Dec 2, 2012vk

    • The nonprofit organization Samasource sends data-entry work to marginalized individuals in the developing world.- vkumar vkumar Dec 2, 2012vk