Collective Intelligence - Digital Media

Digital Media

New media are often associated with the promotion and enhancement of collective intelligence. The ability of new media to easily store and retrieve information, predominantly through databases and the Internet, allows for it to be shared without difficulty. Thus, through interaction with new media, knowledge easily passes between sources (Flew 2008) resulting in a form of collective intelligence. The use of interactive new media, particularly the internet, promotes online interaction and this distribution of knowledge between users.

Francis Heylighen, Valentin Turchin, and Gottfried Mayer-Kress are among those who view collective intelligence through the lens of computer science and cybernetics. In their view, the Internet enables collective intelligence at the widest, planetary scale, thus facilitating the emergence of a Global brain. The developer of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, aimed to promote sharing and publishing of information globally. Later his employer opened up the technology for free use. In the early ‘90s, the Internet’s potential was still untapped, until the mid 1990s when ‘critical mass’, as termed by the head of the Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA), Dr. J.C.R. Licklider, demanded more accessibility and utility. The driving force of this form of collective intelligence is the digitization of information and communication. Henry Jenkins, a key theorist of new media and media convergence draws on the theory that collective intelligence can be attributed to media convergence and participatory culture (Flew 2008). Collective intelligence is not merely a quantitative contribution of information from all cultures, it is also qualitative.

Levy and de Kerckhove consider CI from a mass communications perspective, focusing on the ability of networked ICT’s to enhance the community knowledge pool. They suggest that these communications tools enable humans to interact and to share and collaborate with both ease and speed (Flew 2008). With the development of the Internet and its widespread use, the opportunity to contribute to community-based knowledge forums, such as Wikipedia, is greater than ever before. These computer networks give participating users the opportunity to store and to retrieve knowledge through the collective access to these databases and allow them to "harness the hive" (Raymond 1998; Herz 2005 in Flew 2008). Researchers at the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence research and explore collective intelligence of groups of people and computers.

In this context collective intelligence is often confused with shared knowledge. The former is knowledge that is generally available to all members of a community while the latter is information known by all members of a community. Collective intelligence as represented by Web 2.0 has less user engagement than collaborative intelligence. An art project using Web 2.0 platforms is "Shared Galaxy", an experiment developed by an anonymous artist to create a collective identity that shows up as one person on several platforms like MySpace, Facebook, YouTube and Second Life. The password is written in the profiles and the accounts named "Shared Galaxy" are open to be used by anyone. In this way many take part in being one.

Growth of the Internet and mobile telecom has also produced "swarming" or "rendezvous" events that enable meetings or even dates on demand. The full impact has yet to be felt but the anti-globalization movement, for example, relies heavily on e-mail, cell phones, pagers, SMS and other means of organizing. Atlee discusses the connections between these events and the political views that drive them. The Indymedia organization does this in a more journalistic way. Such resources could combine into a form of collective intelligence accountable only to the current participants yet with some strong moral or linguistic guidance from generations of contributors - or even take on a more obviously democratic form to advance shared goals.

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