The approach I take in building a concept of collective intelligence is to consider collaboration as a type of information processing activity. Thus, I look at several Information Processing System (IPS) models and architectures of individual cognition, identify key components and functions within them, and then identify constructs within collaborative groups that are recognizable as extrapolations of these components and functions. I should point out that there is no inherent reason to believe that a collective intelligence should necessarily resemble familiar models of individual cognition; it could have an entirely different structure. But, if we can see a resemblance between the construct identified as CI and commonly accepted models of human cognition, to which we attribute intelligence, then we are likely to be willing to attribute intelligence to that construct, as well. On the other hand, if the structure identified as CI were entirely different, it would require more extensive justification to extend the claim of intelligence to it.
The volume is dividend into two parts. Part I discusses foundation concepts that are used in Part II to build a concept of collective intelligence and to inform that discussion. Chapter 2 considers the range of activities found in collaborative groups as a result of differences in size, scale of work, task domain, and so forth, by considering three different collaboration scenarios. A simple model of basic information types and the flow of information as one type is transformed into another is also presented. Chapter 3 discusses computer support for collaboration. It reviews a range of system features that fall within the general category of CSCW systems and identifies key features needed to develop the different information types noted in chapter 2. It also describes one particular system in more detail that serves as the reference system for the rest of the discussion. Chapter 4 discusses IPS models and architectures in order to identify key components. It describes both general models/architectures as well as specific IPS models for particular tasks and particular circumstances (i.e., human-computer interaction).
Part II tries to build a concept of collective intelligence. Chapter 5 discusses the different memory systems found in computer-supported collaborative groups that can be recognized as extrapolations of human memory systems. These constructs function as a form of collective memory for collaborative groups. Chapter 6 identifies several types of conceptual processing found in collaborative groups that are analogous to individual conceptual processing. They form a concept of collective processing. Chapter 7 considers issues of collective strategy within large multigroup collaborative projects. Chapter 8 examines issues of collective awareness and control. Chapter 9 concludes the discussion by identifying a set of research dimensions that could provide a framework through which to view and relate a broad range of research and development in the field. It also looks briefly at implications for a theory of collective intelligence.
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