Using Virtual Environments to Transform Collective Intelligence

Using Virtual Environments to Transform Collective Intelligence

Lesley S. J. Farmer (California State University Long Beach, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9899-4.ch008
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The wisdom society is the latest iteration of the idea of collective intelligence, which has accelerated due to social media and other online collaborative tools. This chapter offers a background on information, collective intelligence and its elements, virtual environments, and theories that relate to collective intelligence. Benefits and issues related to collective intelligence are detailed, and conditions for optimum collective intelligence, including its transformation through virtual environments, are explained. Individual and group dynamics, and group models are also discussed in terms of their impact on collective intelligence in virtual environments.
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Information and Its Transformation

The 21st century has marked the democratization of information. Particularly with the advent of social media and low-cost Internet-connected equipment such as mobile devices, a substantial percentage of the population can not only access digital information, but can also comment on, and create, information. Such ease of content generation can also lead to a loss of quality control; information is more readily available but might not be accurate, legitimate, or objective. Individuals need to draw upon past knowledge and experience to determine the validity, relevance and significance of information accessed.

The nature of information itself has been affected by digital technology. Besides the obvious combination of text, image, and sound, technology facilitates the repurposing and transformation of information to address different objectives or different audiences. Indeed, content has been decoupled from its “container” such that concepts may be represented as a podcast, book, or email, each format of which may impact how the audience understands the content therein.

Moreover, applications such as Google docs and wikis enable participants to literally change documents on the fly, thereby putting at risk the concept of a permanent recorded document (Iacono, 2010). That dynamic nature of information can also endanger common understanding as individuals may be drawing upon different versions of a document, each of which differ in the content and its interpretation.

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