Collective Intelligence and Distributed Decision Making

Lots of information recently on the topic of collective intelligence and distributed decision making (web 2.0, decision 2.0, project management 2.0 etc. . .).

George Siemen’s blog looks at the report Clickstream Data Yields High-Resolution Maps of Science. He notes; “The data is current provided as images. It would be useful to navigate the resulting “map of science” in an interactive application”.  When this comes-to-pass, it would really represent a powerful web 2.0 app and a data tool for ideas.

The Many Worlds Blog discusses Eric Bonabeau’s Sloan management review article on Decision Making 2.0. (1-9-2009)  They note 2 concluding suggestions by Bonabeau

“First, collective intelligence tends to be most effective in correcting individual biases in the overall task area of (idea) generation” and

‘Second, because most applications lack a strong feedback loop between generation and evaluation, “companies should consider deploying such feedback loops with greater frequency because the iterative process taps more fully into the power of a collective.”’

This could really be realized if there were two more developments like clickstream data.

  1. If disciplinary research agendas would become more self-organized by being more connected to the collective 2.0 world, because research is just such a feedback loop that Bonabeau is calling for, and
  2. We had a better aggregator for research results.  There is too much research and knowledge being generated to use, at least in a way that taps into collective intelligence.  This would make the leap from idea generation 2.0 to evaluation 2.0.

Finally Andrew Filev in the Project Management 2.0 blog (referencing Seth Godin) says that collective intelligence still needs leadership (as in a leader of the project tribe).  It seems like this is a re-introduction of bias back into the system, but maybe some bias can be productive for getting things done.  I’m not sure.

There are Many Valuable Forms of Measurement in Social Science Related Fields

A recent HBR article touts the benefits on ethnography at Intel. (Ethnographic Research: A Key to Strategy. By: Anderson, Ken, Harvard Business Review, 00178012, Mar2009, Vol. 87, Issue 3)  There are many types of measures in the social sciences.  Each has its own strengths and weaknesses and each has a place in your measurement repertoire.  But, as this article points out, if you limit your view of measurement and science (or data collection and how you are able to deal with different kinds of datum) you will ultimately lose out.

Some people may not like this kind of viewpoint.  It tends to broaden one’s field of vision and many people like to stay narrow and focused.  There is a time and a place for narrow and focused, but there is also a time and place for broad.  Reminds me of something Martin Buber wrote (paraphrasing)

Only a fool give someone three choices.  The wise man gives only two choices, one that obviously good and one that is obviously evil.

I do hope I am correct in reading this sarcastically.  If this is indeed the knowledge age, we need lots of people who can deal with 3 and more choices on a regular basis.