The 2008 Horizon Report describes collective intelligence as “the knowledge embedded within societies or large groups of individuals.” It goes on to explain two forms: explicit and implicit knowledge. Explicit knowledge is collaboration by many people like Wikipedia, E-bay, and The History Commons from http://www.cooperativeresearch.org. Implicit knowledge is the creation of new knowledge by collecting consumer data over time like LibraryThing and Amazon.com.
I enjoyed listening to Thomas Malone’s interview and the use of collective intelligence as a “find-it” strategy. I think this is a great way to poll the resources available on the web that you normally would not have access to. I find that when I need to “find” out some sort of information, I tend to first go to my personal network of friends, family, and collegues. I ask the ones I think have the background knowledge to help me find the correct information I am looking for. If I do not know of someone within my network, then I have to search outside resources. Collective Intelligence is very useful as a “find-it” strategy by providing a place with many people and a variety of backgrounds that can help each other even though they most likely have never met. If you ask around enough, you are bound to find someone who can lead you in the right direction. Having a community online that you can go to and post your information needs, increases your likelihood of finding the answer and in a much more timely fashion. I can see how providing a monetary incentive, like in the cases that were discussed in the interview, can also speed up this process and create a motivation for people to submit their best work.