Harnessing Crowds: Mapping the Genome of Collective Intelligence
Thomas W. Malone
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Center for Collective Intelligence
Boston University, Questrom School of Business - Department of Information Systems
February 3, 2009
MIT Sloan Research Paper No. 4732-09
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
Date posted: April 16, 2009 ; Last revised: October 26, 2012