June 24, 2010

Practices and Processes for boosting CI

When we collaborate using the currently available tools, we are able to share meaning and develop themes, resulting in a record of the interactions which then requires processing in order to extract the valuable data which emerged from the conversation.

Given that our topic is boosting CI, it seems that we could develop a set of process protocols to apply to this stream of valuable resource information. I guess as it stands, we each have our 'pet' methodology, which would result in variable results, and not all parties to any given conversation have the time to devote to comparative analysis of the harvest.

Also, the harvested information is a valuable resource as part of an evolving collective 'meme-stream' (to coin a phrase) so we want to be able to access and include it in the evolving discourse in a way that becomes 'standard' with a view to automation of the process for optimal benefit to the overall process.

So, we need to develop methods of information harvesting and storage that are able to co-evolve with the contributions and constantly improving insights of the collaborators. Ultimately we need to be able to provide this information to the semantic web so it can process and refine it as a collaborative partner to us (which is what it is set to become).

Given this, the information we co-create needs to be rendered into language that the web can use. A process that enables this 'translation' is what we can develop as the next logical step on our journey of collective intelligence.

One suggestion is to convert text based transcripts of conversations into mind maps, which can then be adapted into semantacally integrated ontologies. This does represent a lot of work,the details of which we have yet to establish, however the results could very well pave the way to sane sentient AI, so the potential benefits are enormous.

This suggestion from a friend:

Imagine that we as a group are conversing via text chat. At the same time there is a natural language analyser picking out key concepts (or we can do this manually).

Note: all previous conversations have already been harvested and from this an ontology has been distilled. Thus when the analyser picks out a concept there is a window showing the network of ideas surrounding that concept - where it fits within the élan universe of discourse and what relations it has with other concepts. Woven into this semantic scaffold are comments, observations, links and all manner of data that may be associated with each concept.

This is an example of real-time mapping of the memesphere of a conversation space. The map can be interacted with, edited, and augmented with meta-data as part of the conversation. It provides an interface into the collective knowledge space.

January 10, 2010

Advancing social media strategies in organisations, using collective intelligence

Building a research-based, dynamic knowledge repository of social media strategies


Joanne Jacobs.jpgWriting about what she was up to four years ago, Joanne Jacobs  noted:  “the impact of social media was so poorly understood that the opportunity to develop a sophisticated (and academically rigorous) methodology for assessing social media strategies was too difficult. We are now, however, at a stage where such a document could be collaboratively produced.”


Yes, we are, or at least, it is my working hypothesis #1 worth verifying. “Social media strategies” can also serve as an important context for a much needed action enquiry into how to let practices worth replicating (PWR) spread faster and farther.


Assessing the fitness of rapidly evolving strategies on any domain can be a high-value contribution to the collective intelligence of that domain, particularly, if it was supported by a “sophisticated (and academically rigorous) methodology,” as Joanne noted. That’s what inspired me to pick up her statement and see into the interesting possibilities that it opens. One of them is the enquiry into the question: how to spread innovative practices faster and farther, in the domain of growing social media strategies in organisations?


Given that focusing question and the right methodology (still to develop), that enquiry could activate and boost the collective intelligence (CI) of the whole ecosystem of social media strategies.  Of course, people in strategic management and other professionals whose work will benefit from the enquiry would have to be involved if it is to succeed.

Continue reading "Advancing social media strategies in organisations, using collective intelligence" »

April 5, 2008

How well can collective self-reflexivity scale?

I woke up this morning 4 o’clock and not only because the jetlag. Yesterday was the first day of the first World Café Research Conference. Due to the delay of the flight from New York, I arrived late and when I entered the room, I stepped into a conversation about the reflexive nature of knowing and research. It was strangely familiar and excitingly new, at the same time.

It was familiar because a central theme of my thesis, 30-something years ago, was a critique of the objectivist sociology and its claim that its interview methods are neutral. (I suggested that interviewer and interviewee interact and their relationship constructs the meaning of their exchange as much as the words uttered by the second.)

It was also new because the context, the implied assessment that the quality of new knowledge developed in a typical World Café setting is a reflection of the quality of relationship between participants, as well as, the attention they give to the inner space, from which they are listening and speaking. (Bow to Otto Scharmer’s concept of the “blindspot.”)

At the dinner table, I happened to sit next to Fred Steier of the Fielding Graduate Institute and editor of a series of books on reflexivity in research. Fred is a gentle man with deep caring to squeeze out every once of learning from a conversation, with the power of second order self-reflection. In my exchange with him and the others around the table, I discovered this:

If people in conversation are observing and reflecting on both the source and the direction of their attention (the inner and the inter-subjective space), and sharing those reflections, a spontaneous combustion of consciousness can occur. If so, collective self-reflexivity can lead to deeper, more fine-tuned sensing of reality, thus to wiser action.

How well can collective self-reflexivity scale? What does it depend on whether it will grow into a system of influence or wither away, unfulfilled its potential? I feel those questions deserve a focused and rigorous research. My first thought about it is this:

For conversations that matter to grow into communities of practice and social systems at increasing scale, they have to be able to absorb the increased complexity involved with those systems. What does it depend on whether a community or a network of communities is capable to do that? One of the factors seems to be the trust and appreciation that flow among the participants in the conversation, besides their capacity for double loop learning in real-time, on the spot…

That’s what I got out from the bed with. Now, I go to get a breakfast, and continue the conversation, in the 2nd day of the conference.

May 20, 2007

Collective intelligence in service of Reboot

Reboot is "Calling all practical visionaries of the world!" It's an event to reboot our minds, play on the edge of technology, and re-dream our culture. Its is a brainchild of Thomas Madsen-Mygdal, in its 9th successful year, happening in Copenhagen May 31 - June 1, 2007. The event is designed for 400 people ans is sold out but you can still participate in the Reboot online community, by registering (for free) here.

I will co-facilitate there an experiment in Boosting Our Collective Intelligence. The subtitle is: Presencing the future we care for, by liberating the potential of communities of practice and life-work communities.

Let me know whether you'd want to learn more about it, as it unfolds.

February 8, 2005

Co-evolving Self and Network

Since I last wrote an entry in this blog, I've been busy with faciltating projects and communities exploring and using some of its themes. I'm still too busy with living CI in action, rather than blog about it but here's a piece of news that I thought you'd like to know about. Three of my favorite people, Lisa Kimball, Howard Rheingold and Joichi "Joi" Ito, will be keynoters at an extraordinary web event that will open tomorrow and will no doubt contribute to the collective intelligence of online social networks.

OSN 2005: February 9-23

In 1987 I was a columnist for Computer Currents, a California-based computer magazine, when Howard introduced me to Doug Engelbart. The interview with Doug has literally changed my life, by giving a much sharper focus to a key question of my work and learning: I became obsessed with how emergent technologies of collaboration can contribute to the dramatic upshift that humankind's complex and entangled crises require, from its current level of intelligence. Thank you, Doug, again.

Doug has just passed 80. If you don't know who he is, check out

My friendship with Lisa goes back even further, to our meeting in the early 80's on the "text-only" online social networks of those years and co-founding the Electronic Networking Association and its award-winning online newsletter, the Netweaver. That's where I met, back then, with Joi too. I ran into him more recently, virtually, in a multi-channel conference call on emergent democracy, using a chatroom, a conference call and a wiki, concurrently. I'm looking forward to catch up with them at OSN2005.

Starting on Feb 14, at the same place, I will host a workshop on
Boosting the Collective Intelligence of Your Network

This collaborative inquiry is for online facilitators, leaders of virtual teams and communities of practice, change agents, or just about anyone who curious of how to co-evolve Self and Network. We experience the rapid emergence of a new generation of more capable web browsers, co-authoring and publishing tools, free VoIP telephony, photo-blogging, video-chat, etc. What do they tell us about the potential for our co-creativity to rise on the spine of the double helix of autonomy and community?

This will be not a traditional “e-learning” event but a time-bound peer learning community of authentic dialogue, where participants can share their learning edges and negotiate their learning agenda related to their experience and aspirations in social networks. Reading materials will be provided based on the participants’ interests.

I would love to connect at OSN 2005 with all the readers of this blog interested in online social networks and their potential for collective intelligence. If you're one of them, please click on the button above.

August 4, 2004

What is CI? - a community approach to define it

In a recent conference call of CI practitioners somebody brought up the question “what collective intelligence really IS”. Here, I suggest an approach to define CI in terms of a domain of practice shared by a community of peers.

Continue reading "What is CI? - a community approach to define it" »

July 10, 2004

What is social about "social tools"?

Marc Eisenstadt, a fellow speaker at London Symposium on Social Tools for the Enterprise, wrote in the Symposium's blog:

Personal ownership of content creation is critical: in our work with school children, parents, members of the local community, University students, corporate sponsors, and research colleagues, we find over and over again that empowering users to create their own content is the key to fostering engagement, creativity, and problem solving skills. (emphasis added)

Building on that, I'd add the technological innovation of weblogs will discover its full power in the enterprise when associated with the social innovation of communities of practice. Why? When we free the creative potential of flexible constellations of communities of interest and practice, it will boost their members’ identity, mutual care and professional pride. The emerging generation of social tools can be optimized for powering up that process. When that happens, blogs graduate from personal publishing tool and become a potent enabler of collective intelligence.

Right now, in many companies blogging is looked at with the same suspicion as personal webpages were in the early days of intranets. "Yet, another tool that people can use to express themselves but doesn't it risk to get out of control?" Well, who is in control, anyway?

Continue reading "What is social about "social tools"?" »

May 12, 2004

Social learning theory can stabilize new peaks of CI

In the new "From States to New Stage" category of blog entries I started exploring what it will take to reach a new, higher plateau of CI not only as a temporary group experience but as a sustainable capacity of human communities. The most exciting and most promising development I know of, which will shed light on the path, is a collaborative learning journey (May 17 -June 20) that will be facilitated by Etienne Wenger about his new research plan, Learning for a Small Planet.

Building on his earlier work as a pioneer of "communities of practice," the new phase of his work expands to "large-scale social learning systems involving complex constellations of communities of practice." It will be hosted online by CPsquare and the best is that you can join us there if you want to. In the blog of the European Collaborative for Communities of Practice (ECCoP), Seth Kahan explains how to.

It will be a unique opportunity to accelerate our learning journey to become more effective facilitators of CI emerging at every level, from workplace communities and their constellations, to global movements and projects. I will be there and hope you too.

March 23, 2003

Community straddling

I wrote about multi-membership in 2002, in blog (that a tech glitch wiped out): "Cross-functional individuals belong to multiple communities of practice, and it is the multi-membership that gives them the boundary-spanning multi-perspective, from which they can see radical innovation opportunities where others may see an opportunity only for gradual improvement or nothing." Given that, it was a true delight to discover Sébastien Paquet's concept of "community straddling" in a brief but germinal essay on Online Communities and the Future of Culture. A "community straddler is someone who participates in several communities, be it simultaneously or sequentially, and who understands the culture of each to a certain extent." Seb also wrote:

These people do not feel irrevocably bound to a particular community. They see themselves as multidimensional: as opposed to saying "I'm a doctor, don't expect me to teach you anything" or "I'm just a programmer, don't bug me with politics", they'll say "Well, right now I'm into this and that and that, and if you have something new to show me I just might take a plunge!"

As humankind's collective intellect--reflected to some extent on the web--became the most powerful force of production of our times, multi-community membership and the corresponding multi-dimensional evolution of human faculties, became harbingers of cultural and economic transformation much more profound and broader than we've ever had a chance to experience.

Continue reading "Community straddling" »

March 8, 2003

Culturally strategic AND operational

Joe "Synchronicity" Jaworski is not only an eloquent speaker and guru of “collaborative leadership; he is also a deeply genuine person. Since I saw him at a gathering of organizational learning professionals in Bretton Woods, in the early 90's, I kept hearing about his goodwork from many friends. Finally, I met him again on a Paris - Zürich flight, last October; no, he was not sitting next to me, I've only met his thoughts, as I read his guest column " Tapping into the collective intelligence  in International Herald Tribune, with which the stewardess blessed me on an otherwise boring trip.

It was a short article full of depth, love of humanity, and germinal ideas. Here are some snippets, followed by the thoughts/questions that they inspired in me. By the way, I still haven't talked with Joe, so this blog entry is also an invitation to a conversation. Not only to him but anybody reading it and caring about its subjects. He wrote:

> [E]verything produced within the industrial system must become either a 'technical nutrient,' which is recycled to make new products, or a 'natural nutrient,' which can move harmoniously into the biosphere. For this to happen by 2010, a shift to radical innovation is needed now. Do we know how to bring about such large-scale changes that are culturally strategic and at the same time operational?

The radical and large-scale innovation that industrial ecologists and Joe are calling for is unprecedented in scope and portent. Yet, nothing else will work if we want to transform the gazillion of wasteful social and marketplace practices into sustainable ones. Do we know how to bring about such large-scale changes? No, I don't think so, but we CAN learn it by observing, understanding, and supporting what can enable them. One of those factors, a vital and fast-evolving business and social innovation--that matches Joe's criteria of culturally strategic and at the same time operational--is "communities of practice," to which I dedicate another blog

Continue reading "Culturally strategic AND operational" »