What is Collective Intelligence?

Collective intelligence is a term for the knowledge embedded within societies or large groups of individuals. It can be explicit, in the form of knowledge gathered and recorded by many people (for example, the Wikipedia is the result of collective intelligence); but perhaps more interesting, and more powerful, is the tacit intelligence that results from the data generated by the activities of many people over time. Discovering and harnessing the intelligence in such data — revealed through analyses of patterns, correlations, and flows — is enabling ever more accurate predictions about people’s preferences and behaviors, and helping researchers and everyday users understand and map relationships, and gauge the relative significance of ideas and events.

Two new forms of information stores are being created in real time by thousands of people in the course of their daily activities, some explicitly collaborating to create collective knowledge stores like the Wikipedia and Freebase, some contributing implicitly through the patterns of their choices and actions. The data in these new information stores has come to be called collective intelligence, and both forms have already proven to be compelling applications of the network. Explicit knowledge stores refine knowledge through the contributions of thousands of authors; implicit stores allow the discovery of entirely new knowledge by capturing trillions of key clicks and decisions as people use the network in the course of their everyday lives.

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Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - Sam Sam Jul 21, 2011

(1) How might this technology be relevant to the museums you know best?

  • Museums should consider collective intelligence to get those big projects done that we never seem to get around to doing - holly holly Aug 5, 2011~While there is clearly a distinction to be made between collective intelligence and the wide variety of user-generated content, I think museums could benefit from sitting down and having a serious think about the type of large-scale projects that need to get done (translation, cataloguing, and--dare I say it--description and interpretation of objects) and then looking for constructive ways to harness collective intelligence.
  • Engage special interest groups- holly holly Aug 5, 2011 - holly holly Aug 5, 2011For example, my field is 15th century Italian art, and many Italian works from the late middle ages through the Renaissance include exotic details--an Islamic textile, a piece of blue & white porcelain, or a bronze implement. The actual items were to be found in the homes of the wealthy and in churches due to the active trade between the Italian peninsula and Islamic countries. Artists really weren't concerned with the specifics of where a textile pattern or ceramic dish or piece of glass was made, they simply liked the exotic look of an object and incorporated an interesting piece, often with exquisite attention to detail, into their paitnings. Since most curators of European art don't have a comprehensive background in Islamic and Asian art, museums could harness the individual collectors and communities that do specialize in these areas to help us better understand the works in our collections.
  • very interesting use. would need to determine incentive structure for content experts to contribute their expertise. - gary.schneider gary.schneider Aug 31, 2011
  • - jludden jludden Aug 31, 2011Collective Intelligence is a great example of the potential for collaboration among museums and to help aggregate data that sits across numerous organizations. This technology also has the potential to help museums raise awareness about user data (user interests/actions).
  • In every corner of the world, there is important art that simply is not well-documented online. Crowdsourcing can change that. There are emerging platforms where people can upload photos of "forgotten" art in their neighborhoods, write in descriptions, etc.- Sam Sam Aug 30, 2011

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Add your perspective here...
  • Another perspective here.

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on education and interpretation in museums?

  • The ability for all perspectives and facts on an exhibit or work of art to converge in one central location translates to easier discovery and learning. Plus, the database of knowledge can keep growing on a daily basis.- Sam Sam Aug 30, 2011
  • - jludden jludden Aug 31, 2011Collective Intelligence will be an additional, meaningful resource for educators and content interpreters. This technology will alter the value of the in-person POV or the highly curated (highly produced) digital experience as well.

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • Oxford University wants help decoding Egyptian papyrihttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-14289685
    Osford University sends out a call to armchair Egyptologists to assist in large-scale project translating text and cataloguing bits of papyri in a collection from the "City of the Sharp-Nosed Fish."- holly holly Aug 5, 2011 - holly holly Aug 5, 2011I've seen several examples of this type of project from science institutions seeking citizen scientists. I like this project because it has been generated, essentially, from the humanities sector which has been resistant to these types of initiatives.

  • Another perspective here.

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