Dear John, 


Beyond the case of pyramids, one can think of more abstract forms of social
organization such as the rule of law as a supra-individual coordination


I doubt that “collective intelligence” is the fruitful category. As in the
rule of law, it seems to me that codification of the communication (e.g.,
legislation and jurisprudence) are the vehicles. In other words, the quality
of the communication is more important than the individual or sum total of






Loet Leydesdorff 

Professor Emeritus, University of Amsterdam
Amsterdam School of Communications Research (ASCoR)

 <> ;
Honorary Professor, SPRU,  <> University of
Sussex; Visiting Professor, ISTIC,
<> Beijing;

Visiting Professor, Birkbeck <> , University of London.
<> &hl=en  


From: [] On
Behalf Of John Collier
Sent: Saturday, March 08, 2014 11:26 AM
To: Foundations of Information Science Information Science



This looks fruitful, but it might be argued that the exchanges of
information in a colony can be reduced to individual exchanges and
interactions, and thus there is not really any activity that is holistic.
This is what Steven is doing with his example of pyramid building.

On the other hand, with ants, for example, it has been shown by de Neuberg
and others that in ant colonies the interactions cannot be reduced, but
produce complex organization that only makes sense at a higher level of
behaviour. Examples are nest building and bridge building, among others. I
assume the same is true for humans.

For example, in the pyramid case, why is it being built, why are people so
motivated to cooperate on such a ridiculous project? Contrary to widespread
opinion the workers were not slaves, but they were individual people. I
doubt this can be explained at the individual level. If ants have complexly
organized behaviour, then surely humans do as well -- we are far more
complex, and our social interactions are far more complex.


At 10:33 PM 2014-03-07, Guy A Hoelzer wrote:

I think of ‘collective intelligence’ as synonymous with collective
‘information processing’.  I would not test for its existence by asking if
group-level action is smart or adaptive, nor do I think it is relevant to
ask whether ‘collective intelligence’ informed or misinformed individuals.
I would say that in the classic example of eusocial insect colonies (like
honey bees, for example) there is no reasonable doubt that information is
processed at the level of the full colony, which can be detected by the
coordination of individual activities into coherent colony-level behavior.
Synchronization and complementarity of individual actions reflect the
top-down influences of colony-level information processing. 

It is the existential question that I think is key here, and I hope our
conversation includes objective ways to detect the existence or absence of
instances where a ‘collective intelligence’ has manifested as a way to keep
this concept more tangible and less metaphorical.



On Mar 6, 2014, at 9:22 PM, Steven Ericsson-Zenith <> wrote:

> Is there such a thing as Collective Intelligence?

I am concerned that the methods of the Harvard paper demonstrate nothing at
all and, however well intended, they appear to be insufficiently rigorous
and one might say "unscientific."  

If the question were: are there things that a group of individuals may
achieve that an individual may not, build the Pyramids or go to the Moon,
for example, then manifestly this is the case. 

However, can we measure the objective efficiency of a group by considering
the problems solved by individuals working together in groups such that we
may identify whether there is an environment independent quantifiable
addition or loss of efficiency in all cases? Perhaps, but one suspects not.

Bottomline: I think you must stop worrying about collective intelligence and
speak to quantifiable efficiencies in all cases.

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

The internet does not seem to have especially improved general intelligence
- it has made apparent the ignorance what what there all along. On the other
hand, it appears to have misinformed more individuals than it has


    Dr. Steven Ericsson-Zenith
    Institute for Advanced Science & Engineering


On Thursday, March 6, 2014, 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 Prpiæ

> 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 (Prpiæ & 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

> -

> -

> -


> 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

> -





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)



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