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http://ssrn.com/abstract=1381502
 
 

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Harnessing Crowds: Mapping the Genome of Collective Intelligence


Thomas W. Malone


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Robert Laubacher


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Center for Coordination Science (CCS)

Chrysanthos Dellarocas


Boston University - Department of Management Information Systems

February 3, 2009

MIT Sloan Research Paper No. 4732-09

Abstract:     
Over the past decade, the rise of the Internet has enabled the emergence of surprising new forms of collective intelligence. Examples include Google, Wikipedia, Threadless, and many others. To take advantage of the possibilities these new systems represent, it is necessary to go beyond just seeing them as a fuzzy collection of "cool" ideas. What is needed is a deeper understanding of how these systems work.

This article offers a new framework to help provide that understanding. It identifies the underlying building blocks - to use a biological metaphor, the "genes" - at the heart of collective intelligence systems. These genes are defined by the answers to two pairs of key questions:

- Who is performing the task? Why are they doing it?
- What is being accomplished? How is it being done?

The paper goes on to list the genes of collective intelligence - the possible answers to these key questions - and shows how combinations of genes comprise a "genome" that characterizes each collective intelligence system. In addition, the paper describes the conditions under which each gene is useful and the possibilities for combining and re-combining these genes to harness crowds effectively.

Using this framework, managers can systematically consider many possible combinations of genes as they seek to develop new collective intelligence systems.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 21

Keywords: crowd courcing, wisdom of crowds, collective intelligence

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Date posted: April 16, 2009 ; Last revised: October 26, 2012

Suggested Citation

Malone, Thomas W. and Laubacher, Robert and Dellarocas, Chrysanthos, Harnessing Crowds: Mapping the Genome of Collective Intelligence (February 3, 2009). MIT Sloan Research Paper No. 4732-09. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1381502 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1381502

Contact Information

Thomas W. Malone (Contact Author)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )
E53-333
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-6843 (Phone)
617-253-6843 (Fax)
Robert Laubacher
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Center for Coordination Science (CCS) ( email )
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
Chrysanthos N. Dellarocas
Boston University - Department of Management Information Systems ( email )
595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
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