Dion Hinchcliffe’s Web 2.0 Workgroup writes about “Five Great Ways to Harness Collective Intelligence”, and makes a good point about the concept of collective intelligence.
One of the things Ellyssa discusses is some practical examples of harnessing collective intelligence, one of the linchpin techniques of successful Web 2.0 software. The article describes this as when the “critical mass of participation is reached within a site or system, allowing the participants to act as a filter for what is valuable.” I single this definition out as an understatement. While the article gives some excellent examples of collective intelligence and I’m not certainly faulting Ellyssa in the slightest, I’m just saying that observing that harnessing collective intelligence allows Web systems to be “better” is like saying Moore’s Law states how computers get faster over time. It wasn’t for nothing that Einstein said that compound interest was the most powerful force in the universe. And harnessing collective intelligence is about those very same exponential effects…The concepts here are potent and immensely powerful. Thus, mastery of architectures of participation to create real value will be essential to success in the Web of the future.
Why is this important? The popularity in the past year of tagging and social bookmarking managers is giving the Internet user a more powerful voice in not only a vote for popular topics and posts, but also in determining the topics written about.
The five ways Hinchcliffe list for harnessing the collective intelligence of Internet users are becoming the hub of a hard to recreate data source such as Wikipedia or Ebay; seek collective intelligence out; trigger large-scale network effects such as taking advantage of the network of users to build attention and connections; provide a folksonomy which is the patterns through tagging and social bookmarking to create feedback for most popular information; and create a reverse intelligence filter, a filter that sifts through data to determine which bits of data are most important to raise to the top of the lists.
I look forward to watching what happens with tagging and social bookmarking and the theory of the next generation of the World Wide Web, tagged Web 2.0, and I believe that these five points are critical to its success.