Posts Tagged 'Social Media'

Collective Intelligence is Rewiring not just the Planet, but our Brains

A 6/23/09 article in New Scientist reports on “the first evidence that tool use alters the body map.”  That is, researchers have found that a human brain’s internal map of the body is adjusted to account for a tool that extends the body’s reach.  Researchers were excited to note that this means that a transplanted hand or a prosthetic limb would similarly be incorporated into the ‘body map’ inside the brain.  This is an important example of the plasticity of the brain.

What struck me about this article is the implication for collective intelligence and collective consciousness:

The more we use tools that embody collective intelligence, and tools that increase our awareness and use of the perceptions, knowledge and experiences of people in other parts of the world, the bigger and bigger becomes our brains’ “body map” — and “self map”.

As social media are evolving, they are becoming more and more tools for getting things done, visualizing and then solving complex problems, finding answers, getting support we need, etc.   A key is the shift from passive viewing of world events on nightly television news (which had its own expansive effects), to a much more intimate using of collective intelligence, and participating in it.

We are physically evolving into a new species – by rewiring our brains to encompass tools for accessing and using collective intelligence.

The two principles that shine through when collective intelligence becomes collective consciousness are:

The Whole is more than the sum of the parts.


The Whole is contained in the parts.

The gradual rewiring of human brains to encompass more and more of the whole species and planet is the physical embodiment of this second principle.

(Confession:  Whenever I write something like this, which I seem to like to do, I often hear an internal chorus of “Yeah, yeah, yeah, but now what?”  The “but now what” is the interesting part.)

Twitter is an idea concentrator and attractor

And also of course a friend updater and connector.

So why don’t I use it?   I think because it’s also a fire hose threatening to extinguish my own thoughts.   Or maybe because, when used superbly, each tweet is like a single drop of an essential oil, but it’s hard for everyone to use anything superbly all the time, so the stream of thoughts consists of all of these very different intriguing essential oils all mixed together, along with a lot of non-intriguing vapors, and it takes time to go through and pick out the most intriguing and useful droplets, that also are most relevant, etc., etc., and then what do I do with them, where do I put them, how do I find them again, because I can’t follow-up on very many at a time.

I recently decided to follow a single tweeter (Beth Kanter), who happens to be a consistently superb tweeter, prolifically producing tweets that have a high degree of relevance for me.  I have the same problem as described above, but much less so, and I *have* taken the time to pick up some of the jewel drops, and they were great.

Maybe it’s my body-type, and that my digestive system can get easily overloaded.   But really, the reason I don’t use it is because I haven’t.  Maybe I will.   (Now that it’s no longer one of *the* new things.)

Mountain Top Removal and Social Media

How is it that 66% of West Virginians are against mountain top removal, and yet their state legislature, which they elect, can’t (won’t) pass a decent law to stop it?

Does this have something to do with social media? Mountain top media? The media is on the top of the mountain and we’re way down here? Not enough connections?

Not just a West Virginia problem.   And yet, greed, though frustrating and baffling, is not the cause.  And we are not bad because we are ignorant and not well enough able to connect the dots.   We are connecting them; and it is getting clearer that this is in the interest of each and every individual bundle of experience and desires, and not just of a few.

Organizations Amplify Social Capital

Organizations are social capital amplifiers. They collect social capital from the networks of all of their employees, funding sources, board members, partners, advisors, volunteers, donors, consumers, and suppliers. They can then focus social capital on a tightly integrated array of crucial projects that in turn affect the success of the whole organization.

Social media campaigns use social networks as a medium for broadcasting a message or collective action. This is “pushing power to the edges.”

Social capital networks also enable collecting and focusing social capital to accomplish precise tasks of a single team or a single professional working for the organization. This is collecting power from the edges to accomplish work needed in the center.

On the one hand, social media campaigns are becoming well used and understood. (For example, see Momentum: Igniting Social Change in a Connected Age.” On the other hand, using extended social capital networks to get work done within the center of organizations is less well understood and adopted – except by a relative few “networkers” in the organization. Likewise, the tools that can enhance extended social capital applications are far too under-used, largely because of lack of knowledge and focus on why or how to use them. As a result, this means that organizations can currently tap only a tiny fraction of their available social capital.

For more on social capital applications for organizations, networks, and multi-centered meta networks see:

Recent blog post on Types of Social Capital Applications

Short paper: Amplifying Social Capital in Organizations and Networks

Recent blog post on Facebook, LinkedIn and Usefulness for Organizations

Types of Social Capital Applications

Types of Social Capital, originally uploaded by DuncanWork.

The chart above shows four types of social capital that organizations can make use of. The four types are based on whether the social capital is collected and applied internally or externally, or in combination.

The chart also includes a partial list of different social media (“tools”) that can be used to enhance application of social capital in these four arenas.

“Externally derived” (or collected) means that the social capital is coming from trusted, reciprocal relationships that are outside of the organization; and “internally derived” means that the social capital comes from relationships that are inside the core organization.

Also, note that here I’m using the term “social capital” to refer to the help that people give each other freely (not based on contracts or financial exchanges) because of trusted personal relationships, shared values, affinity. Sometimes the term is also used to refer to financial capital that is invested based on social reasons rather than pure financial returns.

How useful is this way of looking at social capital?  My next post will also say more about this, and my earlier post on the different strengths of Facebook and LinkedIn also touches on this.


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