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Collaborative Intelligence December 4, 2008

Posted by stewsutton in Knowledge Management.
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Collaborative intelligence is a measure of the collaborative ability of a group to create, contribute to and harness the power within networks of people and relationships.  Collaborative Intelligence measures the collaborative ability of a group.

In action, collaborative intelligence represented by the knowledge and problem solving capability of a group is much greater than the knowledge possessed by an individual group member. As groups work together they develop a shared memory, which is accessible through the collaborative artifacts created by the group, including meeting minutes, transcripts from threaded discussions, and drawings. The shared memory (group memory) is also accessible through the memories of group members.

What can this definition (taken from Wikipedia) lead us to conclude?

  1. Collaborative Intelligence (when it works) is people working together with greater collective wisdom than the  summation of their individual wisdom
  2. Collaborative intelligence requires work (debate, review, listening, reflection, setting priority, ranking, being objective, rejecting, and promoting).  These are difficult tasks that take time and energy – not easily automated by technology.
  3. Collaborative intelligence as an “integrator” of collective wisdom finds itself susceptible to groupthink.

Keeping an influx of new perspectives, forcing diversity in the dialog, and having a prescriptive method to drive consensus are key elements to assuring collaborative intelligence forms the basis for good results.

The current crop of web 2.0 technologies seem to be almost directed at improving collaborative intelligence.  Collaborative authorship within Wikipedia is clearly working well on topics of broad interest and peer review.  The blogosphere provides examples of collaborative intelligence in the post/comment cycle within topic areas less prone to flame and rage.  An the tagging and bookmarking services (especially services like spock.com are integrating the diverse opinion of a group intelligence and doing so effectlively.

So collaborative intelligence is making inroads into our society and culture.  Let’s hope it continues to provide benefit and value as it becomes more commonplace.

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