Harnessing Collective Intelligence

11 Mar

James Surowieck says, “The large scale group is smarter than the small elite in solving problems, making a wise decision and predicting the future.” This statement shows the importance of collective intelligence.

Collective intelligence means an aggregation of knowledge and information gotten by participation of users. Nowadays many organizations strive to attract participation from users to harness collective intelligence because it has various merits. Examples of harnessing collective intelligence online are as follows.

IBM. Innovation Jam

Thanks to the Innovation Jam, IBM became the company holding the largest number of patents and it can keep innovating. IBM provides a large-scale forum for debate online every year since 2001. More than 900,000 people from the world post their ideas in this forum in order to solve problems posed and improve them. In addition, they discuss those problems online all day for several days, and they supplement, modify and improve their ideas through this. This is the Innovation Jam. IBM has drawn a variety of innovative businesses for the next generation from it so far.


eBay Inc. is an American multinational internet consumer-to-consumer corporation. eBay.com, one of sites managed by eBay Inc., is a notable website in which people and businesses buy and sell their goods and services. In this website, every user can be a creator of contents. In other words, users create contents by posting their products or services on this website. Moreover, because all buyers can write their feedback on the website after buying something, their opinions can be reflected in all contents sold and bought on this website. In addition, the feedback sometimes has stronger power than a general advertisement. If feedback on some goods was terribly bad, nobody would buy those goods. Like this, it is not too much to say that this website is run by users. For the reason, eBay Inc. can save the money for operation of the website as well.

As mentioned above, harnessing collective intelligence can bring diverse benefits such as getting various ideas and saving money. However, it also has some weaknesses. Therefore, in order to desirably harness and energize collective intelligence online, the following are required.

1. Voluntary participation
As users are creators of knowledge and public opinion, they must participate in it voluntarily.

2. Open cyber space
It is needed to provide space where all people can participate, not only few particular people.

3. Independence from owners
Public opinion must not be biased through exclusion of owners’ opinions and intentions

4. Users’ discernment and insight
Users need to develop discernment and insight to distinguish between false information and genuine information.


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What is Web 2.0??

1 Mar

The term Web 2.0 is associated with web applications that facilitate participatory information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design, and collaboration on the World Wide Web. A Web 2.0 site allows users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as creators (prosumers) of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to websites where users (consumers) are limited to the passive viewing of content that was created for them. Examples of Web 2.0 include social networking sites, blogs, wikis, video sharing sites, hosted services, web applications, mashups and folksonomies.


Web 2.0 websites allow users to do more than just retrieve information. By increasing what was already possible in “Web 1.0”, they provide the user with more user-interface, software and storage facilities, all through their browser. This has been called “Network as platform” computing.[3] Users can provide the data that is on a Web 2.0 site and exercise some control over that data. These sites may have an “Architecture of participation” that encourages users to add value to the application as they use it. Some scholars have made the case that cloud computing is a form of Web 2.0 because cloud computing is simply an implication of computing on the Internet.

The concept of Web-as-participation-platform captures many of these characteristics. Bart Decrem, a founder and former CEO of Flock, calls Web 2.0 the “participatory Web” and regards the Web-as-information-source as Web 1.0.

The Web 2.0 offers all users the same freedom to contribute. While this opens the possibility for rational debate and collaboration, it also opens the possibility for “spamming” and “trolling” by less rational users. The impossibility of excluding group members who don’t contribute to the provision of goods from sharing profits gives rise to the possibility that rational members will prefer to withhold their contribution of effort and free ride on the contribution of others. This requires what is sometimes called radical trust by the management of the website. According to Best, the characteristics of Web 2.0 are: rich user experience, user participation, dynamic content, metadata, web standards and scalability. Further characteristics, such as openness, freedom and collective intelligenceby way of user participation, can also be viewed as essential attributes of Web 2.0.