Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Power of Collective Decision Making

I nearly entitled this "the Powr of Collective Decision Making" because it is what we call Web 2.0 that has  empowered collective activity. 
Steven Johnson outlined 3 models:
  1. The Web 2.0 Group
  2. The Solo Group
  3. The Geo Group
Quality filters - Signal v Noise. We started with Yahoo and ended up with Google. Structured organization - the directory - gave way to the self organizing structure of the automated search index. This is a big lesson to learn in any large enterprise. Enterprise search is a critical capability. We don't need to create rigidity if we can discover what we need. The trick is to use the results of search to optimize and organize. This reinforces emergent structure.
Examples of Web 2.0 collaborative models: Digg, Meetup. Wikipedia, Technorati,
Yes, the Long tail got a mention. Wikipedia was cited as an example of how groups self organize to produce something and reach agreement in the process.
Where do we hit the limits of Groupthink?
Design is one area.  Apple is a prime example where Steve Jobs and design Guru Johnny Ives control the development of just about every Apple product and every aspect of those products. Design by Committee hasn't worked. This is true of many great Internet sites. At their outset they were typically created by a small team with a clear vision. The secret at Apple is to avoid feature bloat and this is the biggest risk with design by committee.
The Solo Group
Steven Johnson pointed to DEVONThink, a Mac application that builds a web of connections from information that you capture. It has been described as a second brain that makes connections for you. 
"Exploring DEVONThink is a collaboration between, authors, the search algorithm and my 
The Geo Group
Google and Yahoo's APIs have triggered a renaissance in cartography as  an army of amateurs have enriched mapping data with very focused data. Crowdsourcing is another application where celebrity appearances can be tracked.
"The Internet has become the filter and interface for the real world"
"The web is not organized geographically."
What the Internet brings is that we have a standardized Virtual Location - the URL and blog software has provided a standardized time stamp. What we still can't do easily is map Internet information geographically.
This is an "ahah!" moment. This is why Google is interested in the Mobile world because GPS on your phone gives geographic relevance to information that we currently don't have. Is Google going to geo stamp our search requests when they come from our mobile device? The next big step on the Internet is to standardize a machine-readable geo locational stamping.
Pulling it all together the example is dial311. A two-way service for non-emergency information. Every call to 311 gets mapped to a location and to a category of request or complaint. The fundamental issue is that 311 leverages the wisdom and attention of the community. The wisdom of the crowd enables collective issues to be identified and addressed.

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