The new agoras: ‘Wikis’ as a form of collective intelligence

Dandelion Salad

by Dr. Kingsley Dennis
Global Research, July 15, 2008
re-public.gr

Successful Wikis, such as Wikipedia make ’smart’ decision, argues Kingsley Dennis. They embody forms of an emerging hybridised collective intelligence, where the weaknesses of the individual are compensated by the contributions of the many.

The Internet has shifted through various phases since the early appearances of web browsers in the 1990s and has fundamentally altered the way people can, and do, interrelate, communicate, think, link, and act. As the Internet increasingly becomes a space where people are becoming the creators, co-designers, and feedback mechanisms of many-to-many software applications, a new form of complex interconnectivity is forming. This was initially termed the Web 2.0 , with Tim O’Reilly describing one of the key lessons of the Web 2.0 era as being ‘Users add value’. Emerging scapes of mobility and social connectivity largely driven by user-created applications are fostering what can be called ‘amplified shared knowledge’ through shifting patterns in technological applications and user participation.

Content-led development of the Internet, involving knowledge webs and knowledge sharing through digital social networks and collaborative tools such as Wikipedia, and Cellphedia, lead the way towards ‘mass amateurisation’. This can be further seen in such practices as folksonomy/tagging, blogging, podcasting, and now vlogging (video blogging). These new online collaborative tools facilitate a collective way of organising massive amounts of information. In effect they are collaborative tools designed to augment human collective intelligence by allowing, and making visible, storage of data designated to be meaningful, i.e. transparent to other users in order to share links and information. And they are being referred to as forms of an emerging hybridised collective intelligence. Yet the term ‘collective intelligence’ can mean many things.

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