Collective Intelligence

October 12, 2008

One important consequence of the advent and rise of the internet is that users are adapting to new means of acquiring and using information.  Collective intelligence is such a concept that has emerged to describe the approach many online communities use to acquire content.  It relies on the specific knowledge all community members possess, and the new information or content that is acquired after the knowledge is pooled together.  Due to the popularity of niche communities, these practices are becoming more pertinent in today’s online activities.  (Jenkins, 27) 


An effective example of collective intelligence was seen leading up to the release of JJ Abram’s film, Cloverfield, this past January.  The science fiction film about a monster attack in New York City was kept heavily under wraps from the press.  Only a mysterious trailer and a slew of viral marketing websites were available to the public.  Still, fans of Abrams and the genre were drawn to the project, and corresponded for months as to the true nature of the film.  What was the monster?  Why was it attacking New York?  Even the title of the film was a subject of speculation. The trailer was dissected, frame by frame, to help discover clues.  Transcripts from interviews and “insider information” were given careful consideration.  These may have just been spoilers to a sci-fi film, yet it held a special meaning to its many fans.  To check out the movement’s central hub, head over to CloverfieldClues:


It is interesting to consider, as face to face communication declines and online communities thrive, the benefits and burdens of collective intelligence.  Is it simply a more innovative and convenient method of gaining information?  Or is the credibility of information jeopardized due to the natural deregulated nature of the internet?  And will this mean a complete end to traditional small group communication?


Collective intelligence suggests that a new relationship is forming between media producers and consumers.  Under old media, the producer and consumer held specific roles in society, and operated in a linear manner.  Producers would create content, and audiences would consume it.  With the internet though, these distinctions have been blurred.  While the producers continue to generate content, consumers now actively create and respond to producers through the collective interaction with other consumers.  This creates a symbiotic relationship between the producer and consumer, one that will likely define new media for years to come. 



One Response to “Collective Intelligence”

  1. jada07 said

    You gave a great example with the film Cloverfield. People were really drawn to the clues and mysteries that many of them worked on solving these clues for weeks. What does that tell our culture that we sometimes ignore our daily personal activities because we prefer to do those activities that we have online?

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