Posts Tagged 'privacy'

Collective vs. Collected Intelligence

There are two types of intelligence:  Collected and Collective.

There is no such thing as “all by yourself” intelligence.

“Collected intelligence” is when one person or group collects intelligence primarily for its own use and benefit.   It doesn’t require other people’s permission or even awareness that their data is being collected, or how it is being used.

“Collective intelligence” is intelligence collected from or contributed by many people who are aware (or have the ability to be aware) of what is being collected and how it is being used – and where those people have rights and abilities to use the intelligence for their own purposes,subject to agreed on constraints, privacy rights, etc.

Collective intelligence, according to this description, is absolutely required for reducing social fragmentation and for increasing social coherence, innovation, and prosperity for all.  Collective intelligence is also required for producing anything that could be called “collective consciousness.”

Collective intelligence can also be described as “connected intelligence” which might be a good idea, since many people still use the term “collective intelligence” when they really mean “collected intelligence.”

(For more thoughts, see  also 2008 post “When is Collective Intelligence also Collective Consciousness?“)

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Connection Strength & Context in Social Networks

This post continues the theme begun in the last post about the nature of networked intelligence, and the role of connection strengths and context.  This one reveals more of the theory that has inspired the “Trusted Sharing” app now being tested by a few friends and colleagues.


Networks are nature’s best embodiments of collective intelligence.

Networks are intelligent and adaptive, which means that they grow in intelligence as they adapt to events to fulfill needs.

The networks that are most important to us are:

  • Networks of living organisms, plants and animals that feed and protect us;
  • Networks of cells that make up our immune systems;
  • Networks of neurons that make up our brains;
  • Personal and social networks that make up our friendship and support networks, and health, transportation, economic, learning, and communication networks.

Our technology is now more than ever creating, using, and maintaining networks.

All networks are basically made of nodes and connections.   The intelligence of the nodes is important, but the real intelligence of networks is in the connections.

There are two super-attributes of connections that are especially important in all types of networks:  Connection Strength and Context.  

In order for a social network application to be most intelligent and useful it has to recognize, ‘understand’ and make use of these two attributes of connections – strength and context.

Current generations of social networks, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and now Google+, are just now, and barely, beginning to recognize and make use of the strength and context of connections.   “Just beginning” means that there is much more valuable evolution that has yet to take place.

All people of course pay close attention to the subtle nuances of their network connections.   But it is definitely a challenge to design a computer-augmented social network application that can more fully ‘understand’ and make use of these nuances, which include the strength and context of connections.

To be successful, social network applications have to miraculously turn complexities and fine distinctions into features that are easy and intuitive to use, useful, and, most of all, that don’t get in the way.

Strength and Context of Connections

Here are some of the distinctions that exist in our ‘real-world’ understanding of social network connections and behaviors.

Context of connection is about what is shared.

Networks form within and around what people share:

  • Friendship, love, family ties (and hostility, aversions, common enemies)
  • Group and organization membership – based on commonalities such as shared interest, perspectives, goals, employer, profession or industry.
  • Exchange-driven contexts – e.g., buyer-seller, client-consultant, teacher-student.

More abstractly what we share are:

–   Interests
–   Values
–    Goals
–    Exchanges and collaborations

Strength:  How strong is the connection?

People easily understand that their connections vary in strength.   We intuitively measure strength in terms of how much the connection is:

–   Close
–   Trusted
–   Valuable
–   High in priority (for response or action)

Reciprocity

There is another important attribute of connections that is important to understand and make use of:  Reciprocity – also known as mutuality.

In social network theory reciprocity is understood in terms of the “direction” of the connections between two nodes:  A connection can extend from A to B, or from B to A, or it can be bi-directional, i.e., reciprocal.

If two people share the same interest (or goal or set of values or group membership) but don’t know each other, then they are each connected by the same context, e.g. interest (or goal or set of values or group membership), but they are not personally connected.

Yet even if not connected personally, they have a mutual connection to the same context; and that mutual connection can be an important incentive for reciprocity:  sharing information and ideas, responding to news & requests, providing help when needed, etc.

It is also possible that even if two people share the same context and don’t know each other personally, one person can “follow” the content that the other person makes available, in a tweet, blog post, article, book, video, etc.

This type of non-reciprocal relationship is Twitter’s sweet spot.  In Twitter if you follow someone’s posts they don’t have to follow you for the system to work.  And yet, following someone is often a way that a reciprocal relationship can start – by following someone back, or even by actually reading and commenting on what the other person posts, or by starting a direct conversation.

Trusted Sharing’s Approach

Trusted Sharing’s first public release will focus on developing a core layer for automatically determining and using both strength and context of connections to sort and filter incoming feeds and to target outgoing messages and feeds.  We already have much of that core functionality completed for use of strength of connections — enough to begin testing and refining with a limited number of test users.  The public release, when complete, will also include simple but useful methods for filtering and tagging content by topic (context).   However, automatically tagging and matching user-generated content by topic isn’t our focus for this first version.   Our preference is to partner with other developers who are already well down the road with automated topic recognition in socially-shared content.

If you would like to be notified when the Trusted Sharing beta is ready, leave a comment here, or contact me at dwork-trsh@spamarrest.com.

Good list of 2010 predictions for social media

Oct 27 post by Jennifer Leggio (ZDNet):

2010 Predictions: Will social media reach ubiquity?

The predictions are from 31 people in Jennifer Leggio’s personal network.   It’s a great collection, and valuable to read through all of them together.   A lot focus on use of social media for marketing, PR, and enterprise collaboration (a lot of the predictors are engaged in consulting or software for those areas).

Common themes:  Social media will indeed be ubiquitous; will spread more in the enterprise; will need more privacy controls (or not); will have more location-based apps; will require more filtering.

Here are a few excerpts that especially interest me:

Caroline Dangson, IDC@carolinedangson

“IDC survey data shows more than 50% of worldwide workers are leveraging the free, public social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook for business today. IDC believes the primary reason workers are using the consumer social media platforms is because their organization is not providing these types of tools itself”

(I believe there are other very good reasons for continued use of consumer social media platforms in organizations.  E.g., it’s hard to replicate the value of a global platform with 50+ million members .)

Peter Shankman, Help A Reporter Out@skydiver

“We’ll update to let people know where we are and where we’ll be. And the best part is, we won’t have to. 2010 will be the start of the time where our devices do it for us. FourSquare will auto-update our location via GPS, which will tell Twitter, who will add the #fb tag and notify Facebook”

“we’ll start to accept the concept that hey – maybe we really DO only need one social network ,which will bring us to 2011 – the year of the consolidation.”

Brian Sibley, Sibley PR@bsibley

“Domino’s experience taught us that when it comes to social media, you can’t just switch it on, like you can a traditional marketing tool. You have to invest the time to build a strong following in order to be able to use it as an arrow in your crisis communications quiver when the time comes”

Brian Solis, FutureWorks@briansolis

“2010 will be the year that we save us from ourselves in social  media…we will stop drinking from the proverbial fire hose and we will lean on filtering and curation to productively guide our experiences and  production and consumption behavior and interaction within each network.”

I’m looking forward to reading 2010 predictions from others.  Thoughts?

When is Collective Intelligence also Collective Consciousness?

This seems to be a really important and practical question — not just an interesting philosophical one.

This question occurred to me early this month when I read this NY Times article about Collective Intelligence and Privacy.   I realized that I had been sloppily (or naively) using “collective intelligence” and “collective consciousness” as almost having the same meaning.  The article in contrast – and apparently most tech-type people who use the CI term – are referring to the macro-level knowledge, insights, and power that accrues when intelligence about behaviors and perspectives is gathered from many sources, and analyzed to reveal patterns.   In that usage the sources (e.g., individual people or organizations) may not even be aware that their intelligence and behaviors are being collected, or what the results are, or how the results are being used.   As a result, “collective intelligence” is fraught with challenges to individual privacy, rights, etc.

What is the answer?

At minimum it seems that for collective intelligence to lead to collective consciousness, it has to be transparently accessible to the collective (the sources) as well as to the collectors.

But I would really like to know more how others think about this, especially those who are most actively researching, pondering, parsing, categorizing, analyzing, wonkifying and creating collective intelligence.

I’ll also add a few other posts about this, starting with the next one, (which you may have just read).


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