Friday, January 27, 2006

Our Collective Mind II

Some time ago I posted an unusual short text about collective intelligence. I think it was motivated by the web2.0 explosion, all the blogging, social websites and the layer of other services tracking these human activities in real time. The developments in the last 2-3 years were not so much a question of technical innovation since most of the tools were already developed but it was mostly a massification effect. A lot more people started to participate online instead of just browsing. This participation is very easy to track and we have automatic services that can, for example, tell us what people are currently talking about. One can think of these services as a form of self awareness. If you go to tech.memeorandum you can see a computer algorithm tracking the currently most talked about subjects in technology and organizing them into conversations. This does not mean that the web can understand what is being talked about but it is self aware.

I read today a (very long) post by Nova Spinack about this subject of self awareness and how he proposes that we should build this on a large scale. Although I agree that this type of services are very useful I am not sure that one should try to purposely build some form of collective intelligence on such abstract terms. This idea of having everything collected under the same service feels to restrictive and not very functional. I would prefer a diversity and selection approach, just let the web decide. There is a big marked for web services right now and I don't see it fading any time soon. Therefore if collective intelligence is possible and useful then rapidly services will be built on top of each other to produce it.

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