Dear John, Pedro and Fis colleagues.

John P has provided us with a delicious set of questions that are hard to 
resist. I want to address the questions he raised from a traditional point of 
view. No doubt the questions John has raised are motivated by the enormous 
possibilities that digital IT and in particular the Internet have made 
possible. The perspective I want to bring up is an historic one. Let me answer 
the questions John raises from that perspective.

>> Is there such a thing as Collective Intelligence? 

Yes - Long before we had digital IT and electrically configured IT such as the 
telegraph, telephone, radio and TV and long before we had the printing press 
and even long before we had writing we had collective intelligence as a result 
of spoken language and culture. What is a culture after all but a form of 
collective intelligence. Eric Havelock called myths the tribal encyclopedia. 
With writing the collectivity of intelligence grew wider as evidenced by the 
scholars of Ancient Greeks who created a collective intelligence through their 
writing. The printing press was the next ramping up of collective intelligence 
as the circle of intelligences contributing to a particular project 
dramatically increased. The ability to have a reliable way of storing and 
sharing experimental data contributed in no small way to the scientific 
revolution. Other fields of study thrived as a result of print IT such as 
philosophy, literature, history, economics etc etc. The printing press also 
contributed to the emergence of modern democracy. With the coming of 
electricity and electrically configured IT the collectivity of intelligence 
passed through another phase transition. Marshall McLuhan reflecting on this 
development well before the emergence of digital IT wrote.

"The university and school of the future must be a means of total community 
participation, not in the consumption of available knowledge, but in the 
creation of completely unavailable insights. The overwhelming obstacle to such 
community participation in problem solving and research at the top levels, is 
the reluctance to admit, and to describe, in detail their difficulties and 
their ignorance. There is no kind of problem that baffles one or a dozen 
experts that cannot be solved at once by a million minds that are given a 
chance simultaneously to tackle a problem. The satisfaction of individual 
prestige, which we formerly derived from the possession of expertise, must now 
yield to the much greater satisfactions of dialogue and group discovery. The 
task yields to the task force.(Convocation address U. of Alberta 1971)."

And now we come to the next phase transition in collective intelligence that we 
may identify with the Internet and other forms of digital IT. This development 
is both new and old at the same time. It is old as I have argued since language 
and culture, writing, the printing press, electric mass media each represented 
an internet of sorts metaphorically speaking. What is new is the magnitude and 
scale of the collectivity today, which allows a total democratization of view 
points and insights. Since a quantitative change can also be a quantitative 
change the current era of intelligence collectivities is new and one might even 
say a revolutionary change. For example a transition from representative 
democracy to participatory democracy. To conclude: Yes there is such a thing as 
Collective Intelligence - It has been with us since the emergence of Homo 
sapiens and it defines the human condition. As we push ahead to explore new 
frontiers of collective intelligence it is prudent to take into account our 
past experience with this phenomenon. Plus ca change plus ca le meme chose. 

>> How does IT effect the existence or non-existence of Collective 
>> Intelligence? 

I believe I have answered this question above. 

I will address the other questions in the fullness of time but now I must 
return to my duties. Thanks to John and Pedro for raising such an interesting 

I look forward to our discussion and any comments on my remarks.

With kind regards - Bob Logan

PS - One of duties that has cut short my response to John's questions is the 
organization of The Pages Conference on the Future of the Book taking place 
next week in Toronto. The book is another form of IT that contributes to 
collective intelligence which is being radically transformed by digital IT and 
is a topic worthy of discussion in the context of Collective Intelligence. For 
those that are interested in this particular sub-topic you may which to join my 
Google Group Rethinking the Book. If you are interested shoot me an email and I 
will invite you to join this Google Group. And here is the abstract of the 
Future of the Book conference I am helping to organize.

The Future of the Hybrid Book  (e-book + p-book)   - 10:30 to noon  - Main Hall

The Future of  Poetry Publishing- 10:30 to noon – Tiki Room

The Future of  Educational & Scholarly Publishing - 1:30 to 3 pm - Main Hall

The Future of Drama Publishing- 1:30 to 3 pm – Tiki Room

The Future of Self-publishing - 3:30 to 5 pm - Main Hall

The Future of Graphic Novels - 3:30 to 5 pm – Tiki Room


Robert K. Logan
Prof. Emeritus - Physics - U. of Toronto 
Chief Scientist - sLab at OCAD

On 2014-03-06, at 4:41 AM, Pedro C. Marijuan wrote:

> Dear John P. and FIS Colleagues,
> Thanks for the kickoff text. It a discussion on new themes that only 
> occasionally and very superficially has surfaced in this list. 
> Intelligence, the information flow in organizations, distributed 
> knowledge, direct crowd enlistment in scientific activities... It sounds 
> rather esoteric, but in the historical perspective the phenomenon is far 
> from new. Along the biggest social transformations, the "new information 
> orders" have been generated precisely by new ways to circulate 
> knowledge/information across social agents--often kept away from the 
> previous informational order established. In past years, when the 
> initial Internet impact was felt, there appeared several studies on 
> those wide historical transformations caused by the arrival of new 
> social information flows --O'Donnell, Hobart & Schiffman, Lanham, Poe...
> But there is a difference, in my opinion, in the topic addressed by John 
> P., it is the intriguing, more direct involvement of software beyond the 
> rather passive, underground role it generally plays.  "Organizational 
> processes frozen into the artifact--though not fossilized". Information 
> Technologies are producing an amazing mix of new practices and new 
> networkings that generate growing impacts in economic activities, and in 
> the capability to create new solutions and innovations. So, the three 
> final questions are quite pertinent. In my view, there exist the 
> collective intelligence phenomenon, innovation may indeed benefit from 
> this new info-crowd turn,  and other societal changes  are occurring 
> (from new forms of social uprising  and revolt, to the detriment of the 
> "natural info flows" --conversation--, an increase of individual 
> isolation, diminished happiness indicators, etc.)
> Brave New World? Not yet, but who knows...
> best ---Pedro
> Prpic wrote:
>> ON COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE: The Future of IT-Mediated Crowds
>> John Prpić 
>> 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 
>> changes? 
>> -
> -- 
> -------------------------------------------------
> Pedro C. Marijuán
> Grupo de Bioinformación / Bioinformation Group
> Instituto Aragonés de Ciencias de la Salud
> Centro de Investigación Biomédica de Aragón (CIBA)
> Avda. San Juan Bosco, 13, planta X
> 50009 Zaragoza, Spain
> Tfno. +34 976 71 3526 (& 6818)
> -------------------------------------------------
> _______________________________________________
> fis mailing list

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