Harnessing Crowds

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* Report: MIT Center for Collective Intelligence. Harnessing Crowds: Mapping the Genome of Collective Intelligence. By Thomas W. Malone, Robert Laubacher, and Chrysanthos Dellarocas. 2009

URL = http://cci.mit.edu/publications/CCIwp2009-01.pdf

an important overview of the theory and mechanisms behind successful Crowdsourcing efforts.


Noah Raford:

"The MIT Center for Collective Intelligence recently published an important overview of the theory and mechanisms behind successful crowdsourcing efforts. Their report, called “Harnessing Crowds: Mapping the Genome of Collective Intelligence“, can be found here.

Their research reveals similarities behind many high-profile collective intelligence (CI) systems, including Threadless, Wikipedia and InnoCentive. It then describes how these lesson can be applied to the design of other successful CI platforms.

I call this work the MIT Approach to Collective Intelligence, which is a generic approach applicable to a wide range of problems and circumstances. This post explores how I have used the MIT approach in my own work and how you can use it to build your CI system. I also offer a slightly reformatted version of their content – in the form of a detailed process flowchart – which I hope will make their work more accessible to a wider audience.

According to the Center for Collective Intelligence, a good collective intelligence platform (CI) must address the following themes:

1. Goals, referring to the desired outcome;

2. Incentives, referring to the motivational factors;

3. Structure/process, referring to the business model and organizational structure to complete the task; and

4. Staffing, referring to the people required to support the business model and sustainability of CI within the organization.

These four themes then translate into the following four questions:

1. What is to be accomplished?

2. Why should anyone help out?

3. How are they meant to contribute?

4. Who will perform the necessary work?

This approach then asks a series of sequential, logical questions, the answers of which form specific guidelines for all CI systems:

  1. Can activities be divided into pieces? Are necessary resources widely distributed or in unknown locations?
  2. Are there adequate incentives to participate?
  3. What kind of activity needs to be done?
  4. Can the activity be divided into small, independent pieces?
  5. Are only a few good (best) solutions needed?
  6. Does the entire group need to abide by the same decision?
  7. Are money or resources required to exchange hands or motivate decision?

The answer to these questions comes in the form of specific “genetic” building blocks, such as the “Create” gene, the “Crowd” gene, or the “Decide” gene. The paper concludes with a detailed table listing these genes and how they interact with the questions above." (http://news.noahraford.com/?p=695)