Examples – “Pockets of waking cells”
In this final section to the “interactive book” examples of World Mind initiatives and enterprises are highlighted. CWM itself is an example, it reads: “these pages are the first stage in trying to constitute a sustainable manifestation of an organized global thinking apparatus, as originally envisaged by H.G. Wells in the 1930s”. In CWM, Simon and Jan had begun the creation of “a world intelligence gathering” that they saw as neither “academic, nor commercial.” Their hope was that anyone interacting with their book would pick-up the conversation where they left off. Finally, 15 years later, I’ve done just that, but far more important than this work are what Simon calls, “pockets of waking cells”.
There are many examples that involve “crowdsourcing” as a way of leveraging many minds to make needed discoveries. A project called Galaxy Zoo was examined in the Digital Content Weekly by Journalist Sam Jordison. He spoke with Dr. Chris Linnot, the principle investigator whose team needed to sort millions of images taken from space by a robotic telescope. They registered 250,000 volunteers on their site who were happy to help sort the images in order to help discover something new about galaxy formations and the evolution of the universe.
The closest and most heavily cited example is Wikipedia, but it is regrettably losing contributors. The Wall Street Journal reports that “the English-language Wikipedia suffered a net loss of more than 49,000 editors, compared to a net loss of 4,900 during the same period a year earlier, according to Spanish researcher Felipe Ortega.” The article goes on to critique Wikipedia as becoming “less freewheeling and more like the organizations it set out to replace”.
Many more examples involve “collective intelligence”. An article by the SingularityHub.com shares how the The Center for Collective Intelligence at MIT are working on collective intelligence applications to “generate solutions to climate change, make accurate predictions about the future, or find ways to improve healthcare.” The article reads, “individual intelligence is old news, collective intelligence is the future”.
Another collective intelligence application comes from a startup called Ledface. The platform (to be released in July, 2011) aims to enable anyone to ask questions, but rather than getting a reply from an individual, “the response emerges from many people co-creating that answer in real time in an egoless environment” as their site describes. The purpose of an “egoless environment” is to reduce the learner’s fear of exposing their thoughts, or having to meet the social pressures of other’s expectations.
The power of collective imagination and futures thinking is generated at a website called SpaceCollective.org. Rick Poynor highlighted the site in Eye Magazine: Its founders Folkert Gorter and film-maker Rene Daalder invite “forward thinking terrestrials” to explore a future where we are “progressively more coupled and cybernetically joined”.
Top contributor Wildcat2030 writes “our virtuality, our mind, once thought to be a unitary whole, now accepted as a self-organizing dynamic system is adapting to the hyperconnected reality”. In another post he sees the community becoming like a “topology of minds” whereby one adapts to “a formless cloud of identities” within a “modern state of entangled hyperconnectivy”. Wildcat and others blend philosophy, science, art, and technology in a way that sparks collective creativity and insight.
The World Mind is still in its infancy, but our ability to participate in solving large-scale problems through social networks and mobile technology is what excites innovator and educator Mark Pesce. In his essay The Social Sense, he writes about how a ‘crowdsourcing’ initiative in Japan enlisted people in monitoring radiation levels using dosimeters and Geiger counters provided by a web-based project called ‘Safecast’. The Participants shared their readings with the network providing valuable information that the Japanese government had failed to provide.
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