Collective Intelligence

April 19, 2008

To me, collective intelligence is the intelligence of a group. The knowledge of one person is shared amongst the group. This concept is shown most clearly in the form of wikis.

The blog Wikinomics (a great blog that everyone should subscribe to, by the way) had a great article called Wikinomics Applied to Traffic that showed this concept working in the real world. While this is an odd article, and it might be a stretch to reference it for class, it does show how people working together create their own entity, in this case safer streets. As the article says, “It’s a great model for how pushing out central authority and decisonmaking to end users can result in more optimal behavior.” This sort of test is applicable to other parts of real life, including online wikis. Though, in a wiki it is information that is monitored instead of the actions of others. The people gathered their collective intelligence to form what they wanted themselves.

In Expert or Amateur? Both the author reasons that the web is taking a shift from collective intelligence, but not a complete shift. He quotes Tony Dokoupil from Newsweek, showing that while “everyday” people edit Wikipedia, the majority of articles are being edited by experts in the field the article is about. The author reasons that, while everyone submits content to Web 2.0 websites, it’s the experts that really shine through, that, “Today, an expert is someone who is expert in the network; connecting, sharing, sifting, ordering, and always taking the pulse of the wisdom of the experts and the crowd.” This is collective intelligence. The expert lends his knowledge to the group so that they, too can gain such knowledge.

Personally, this shows a much more open way of sharing information. For me, this means that much more knowledge is available to me than would have been years ago. In my PLE, networking is vital. I remember back when I used to always frequent message boards. We would share our knowledge amongst each other, and I learned so much more from them than I would have ever from a book. They would give advice on what to read, what to expect, who’s the expert in the field, as well as information on whatever we were discussing. It was a treasure trove of information. My PLE works in the same way (well, those message boards in a way were my PLE, even though I didn’t think of it that way), where others deal out whatever they know and can recommend and I do the same back. Looking up facts and discussing them among others is a much better way to learn than having a teacher lecture because it forces everyone to know the facts they are discussing (or writing about in a wiki).

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When I first read about Personal Learning Environments, the first thought that came to my mind was: why wasn’t I told this before? The concept should be incorporated into every classroom. This would really help limit the hand-holding that many teachers seem to do.

Using a PLE would get me in touch with others out there who are trying to learn the same thing I am, which would help me understand the information that much more clearly. Content aggregators would be so helpful in organizing links involving the class, and would help others find the information. To be really immersed in learning something would be ideal, so I would like to try making my own PLE.

This blogger really goes into detail about what she uses in her PLE. She has such good tools, I think I’ll try to emulate what she has. Maybe. That may be to complicated for a PLE-newbie like me.

I read a blog (here) that mentioned a class wiki. Does that sound like a good idea for this class? It would not only put the information we learned in class into one location, it would also force us to think about the topics. Maybe it could even be an IMD-wide wiki, so that the students who are about to graduate could help contribute. That way, the upper levels would be more likely to network with us who are just starting. What does everyone think?

What about keeping in touch with each other using IM? I would prefer Skype, personally, but some people may be unable to download such a thing. Maybe setting up something that can be used with meebo.com? The problem with that would be coordinating people’s schedules.

What about Flock? Anybody use it? It’s a browser with social networking tools built into it. It sounds like it would be useful to help organize our PLE’s.