I am fascinated by the notion of the wisdom of crowds. The evidence and potential of a new intelligence that emerges from a group that is diverse and well networked is enthralling. A lot of people have talked about this topic, but maybe no one who described as well as Levy:
The term collective intelligence, or CI for short, was originally coined by French philosopher Pierre Levy in 1994 to describe the impact of Internet technologies on the cultural production and consumption of knowledge. Levy argued that, because the Internet facilitates a rapid, open, and global exchange of data and ideas, over time the network should “mobilize and coordinate the intelligence, experience, skills, wisdom, and imagination of humanity” in new and unexpected ways. As part of his utopian vision for a more collaborative knowledge culture, he predicted: “We are passing from the Cartesiancogito” — I think, therefore I am — “to cogitamus” — we think, therefore we are. The result of this new “we,” Levy argued, would be a more complex, ﬂexible, and dynamic knowledge base. In a CI culture, he wrote, knowledge “ceases to be the object of established fact and becomes a project.” Members of a CI would not simply gather, master, and deploy preexisting information and concepts. Instead, they would work with the collected facts and viewpoints to actively author, discover, and invent new, computer-fueled ways of thinking, strategizing, and coordinating.
Jane McGonigal discusses a game built around these ideas in Why I Love Bees. The game seems beyond interesting, well designed and almost sublime. It is however a game. A game with clues to a story and conclusion that have been designed. While it is a beautiful thing, I think that collective intelligence truly emerges not in reassembling a scattered puzzle, but in discovery newly imagined connections with previously unthought conclusions.