Daniel's Web 2.0 related Blog

Harnessing Collective Intelligence | 03/Mar/2010

It could be argued that “Collective Intelligence” summarises the power of the internet – both for the individuals who use it and for corporate interests trying to wield its power.  The lecture on Harnessing Collective Intelligence raised issues surrounding the latter point.  In particular, it compared the best practices of businesses and organisations, pointing out how differing methods have been developed to develop new information resources, based on the input of users around the world.  The key issue is how.

In the lecture, three distinct methods of creating “something” were listed, including:

  • “Paying people to develop information” – a practice that has been adopted from the “real” world – e.g. book publishers paying authors for the right to sell their intellectual property
  • “Allowing volunteers to provide information” – Wikipedia was cited as an example
  • “Creating or providing existing information as a result of using Web 2.0 to serve individual needs”

Using the methods of publishing information above, it could be argued that each method has value in Web 2.0.  Referring to volunteers providing information to shared databases, Bricklin (2006) argues, “interested individuals provide the data because they feel passionate enough about doing so.”

Despite this, it is clear that the prominent method for businesses to develop and market information will come as a result of utilising existing information gathering businesses and technologies.  According to Bricklin (2006), more and more information will come as by-products of past developments (such as street maps) – taking the street map example, this means that the task of developing and maintaining maps will become the responsibility of a few firms (e.g. Navteq) who are already selling their maps to GPS manufacturers, which eliminates the need for these businesses to develop their own digital maps for their devices.  Even Whereis, a popular online street directory, sources its mapping information from UBD and Telstra (http://www.whereismaps.com/about-our-maps.aspx).

This actually has positive implications for copyright, as it shows that businesses are prepared to pay a licensing fee to information gathering businesses, while saving the cost of traditional information building (including paying a staff to gather the information independently).

Ultimately, “Collective Intelligence” gives new power to businesses, which can provide more innovative services to a growing online market without the traditional costs associated with developing the necessary information and content.


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About author

I am an I.T./Education undergraduate at Queensland University of Technology (QUT)







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