Collective Intelligence is a Commons That Needs a Dedicated Language

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  • Article: Collective intelligence is a commons that needs protection and a dedicated language. Helene Finidori. Spanda Journal, Vol. 2, 2014



"Technology is what boosts the capacity of individuals and communities to become authors of their own stories, and what enables collective intelligence to become aware of itself and to fulfill its long awaited promise. It is also what can lock up potential inside black boxes for just a few to benefit from.

We are facing a paradox. It seems that at the same time as collective intelligence is making itself increasingly palpable and promising as a whole, the possibility of it being actionable locally and effectively enabling us to get ourselves out of a planetary predicament is becoming remote.

In this article, I look at how collective intelligence is being hindered or captured as it comes into being, with the threat of leaving us deprived from a significant source of latent agency, and I suggest what it would take to reclaim it back.

I build upon the Ecology for Transformative Action, which I set the stage for in the last issue of this journal, to examine the condition under which technology and systems dynamics can be turned towards the greater good, and how collective intelligence can be mobilized and operate as a force for systemic change. In particular, I explore further how a pattern language for systemic change regenerative of commons could be the means of expression of operationalized collective intelligence." (


"The mobilization of collective intelligence at wider systemic levels beyond the boundaries of our habitual communities to solve wicked interconnected problems involves more complex mechanisms and in particular the capacity to achieve more complex synergies (i.e. systemic coherence) across multiple centres in addition to ‘simple’ local synthesis (i.e. complexity reductions) within cohesive centres of shared experience.

This requires an expansion of our capacities to meaningfully relate to each other, to understand our position in the bigger picture, to perceive and mutually recognize our respective logics and space for engagement, and to find and interpret the signals and tracks our actions leave in the system and the environment as feedback and feedforward that will inform further interpretation and action.

Achieving coherence involves tools and processes that can facilitate self-coordination of multiple approaches at many levels and scales, in addition to building cohesion through facilitation methodologies within defined contexts."