Collective Intelligence and Media Work


The model pictured here is taken from the Website of the Canada Research Chair in Collective Intelligence at the University of Ottawa, previously held by Pierre Levy.

Tom Atlee defines Collective Intelligence (CI) broadly as: "The INTELLIGENCE of a COLLECTIVE, which arises from one or more SOURCES." Levy talks about "The capacity of human communities to co-operate intellectually in creation, innovation and invention", and ascribes it particularly to cyberculture. He originally coined it in his 1994 book, excerpted at Archipress. What is particularly interesting in Levy's analysis is his assumption that internet by definition is a continuous and collaborative medium, a work-in-progress. It made me think of the implications for media organizations when moving their operations online (such as in the case of the news, advertising, and music industries)... initially, that was a commercial and creative disaster (and in many cases, it still is). This implies that participation or collaboration has never been adequately conceptualized or embedded as an intrinsic element of (digital) mediawork.

George Por, writing at the 'Blog of Collective Intelligence', offers a taxonomy of CI. It seems an online/offline convergence may be occurring between dialogic and human-machine CI in the various ways in which we (dis-)engage in hyperreality... Thus also creating a spillover-effect between the valuesystems and cultures of different media and mediated experiences.

Beyond utopian hopes and dystopian horrors - paraphrasing Rob Kling here - the developments in more or less collaborative mediamaking emerging globally suggest how a CI framework might be helpful to understand and map a future of mediawork. Consider for example the emerging voluntarist as well as business praxis of: interactive advertising, viral and word-of-mouth marketing, game modding, citizen journalism, open source software systems, and any kind of mediated social networks as varied as Kuro5hin ("corrosion"), Flickr, YouTube, Current.TV, and the companies recently acquired by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation: MySpace, Newroo, and kSolo.

My question is: how will this process affect the professional identity, creative autonomy, and cultural production of mediaworkers? At the very least, it will most definitely 'liquify' the work media professionals do.