ON COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE: The Future of IT-Mediated Crowds
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Software (including web pages and mobile applications etc) is the key building
block of the IT field in terms of human interaction, and can be construed as an
artifact that codifies organizational process “…in the form of software
embedded “routines” (Straub and Del Guidice 2012). These organizational
processes are frozen into the artifact, though not fossilized, since the
explicit codification that executes an artifact can be readily updated when
desired (Orlikowski and Iacono 2001, Yoo et al. 2012).
A software artifact always includes “a setting of interaction” or a user
interface, for example a GUI or a DOS prompt (Rogers 2004), where human beings
employ the embedded routines codified within the artifact (including data) for
various purposes, providing input, and receiving programmed output in return.
The setting of interaction provides both the limits and possibilities of the
interaction between a human being and the artifact, and in turn this
“dual-enablement” facilitates the functionality available to the employ of a
human being or an organization (Del Giudice 2008). This structural view of
artifacts (Orlikowski and Iacono 2001) informs us that “IT artifacts are, by
definition, not natural, neutral, universal, or given” (Orlikowski and Iacono
2001), and that “IT artifacts are always embedded in some time, place,
discourse, and community” (Orlikowski and Iacono 2001).
Emerging research and our observation of developments in Industry and in the
Governance context signals that organizations are increasingly engaging Crowds
through IT artifacts to fulfill their idiosyncratic needs. This new and rapidly
emerging paradigm of socio-technical systems can be found in Crowdsourcing
(Brabham 2008), Prediction Markets (Arrow et al. 2008), Wikis (Majchrzak et al.
2013), Crowdfunding (Mollick 2013), Social Media (Kietzmann et al 2011), and
Citizen Science techniques (Crowston & Prestopnik 2013). Acknowledging and
incorporating these trends, research has emerged conceptualizing a parsimonious
model detailing how and why organizations are engaging Crowds through IT in
these various substantive domains (Prpić & Shukla 2013, 2014). The model
considers Hayek's (1945) construct of dispersed knowledge in society, as the
antecedent condition (and thus the impetus too) driving the increasing
configuration of IT to engage Crowds, and further details that organizations
are doing so for the purposes of capital creation (knowledge & financial).
However, as might be expected, many questions remain in this growing domain,
and thus I would like to present the following questions to the FIS group, to
canvas your very wise and diverse views.
Is there such a thing as Collective Intelligence?
How does IT effect the existence or non-existence of Collective Intelligence?
How do national innovation systems (and thus policy too) change when we
consider IT-mediated crowds as the 4th Helix of innovation systems?
Does the changing historical perception of crowds signal other societal
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