Web 2.0: Harnessing the Collective Intelligence

The social web allows for interaction and socialising among people through the World Wide Web. This can have its advantages and disadvantages. Arguably one of the biggest attractions that Web 2.0 provides is that the majority of it is free. One thing for sure is that through the use of Web 2.0 applications this can lead to the creation of meaningfully rich knowledge.

A set of basic patterns or characteristics of Web 2.0 were identified by Tim O’Reilly. For this weeks blog I will be focusing on the pattern: harnessing collective intelligence.

Collective intelligence is a shared or group intelligence that emerges from the collaboration and competition of many individuals from multiple sources. In a shared intelligence space users effectively use this pool of knowledge to create a vast collection of information. As the global accessibility and availability of the Internet this has allowed more people than ever to contribute and access ideas.

The emergence of these Web 2.0 technologies has opened the door to the concept of collective intelligence which plays a key and pivotal role in the social semantic web in harnessing this knowledge.

From all the various kinds of Web 2.0 technologies I have chosen to focus on Wikis due to their huge contribution to collective intelligence.

There any many wikis around the globe, but chances are the most common one, that most if not all of you have heard of and use on an every day basis is Wikipedia. Wikipedia is a massive online encyclopedia that is so large that it is commonly the top result that is returned in your browser search results.

 The use of Wikis is growing at a phenomenal rate due to the fact of the pure simplicity in which users find them to utilize. A wiki allows quite simply multiple people to enter and communally edit information which in turn can be viewed and edited by anyone who visit the wiki.

Although wiki’s can be very quick and useful for finding general knowledge answers and relevant information, the downside of the simplicity and the utter openness of a wiki cause many people to instantly reject the concept. Where does all the information come from? Is it reliable? What stops people from vandalizing a wiki until it dies? In fairness the information is not always reliable as virtually anyone can go onto Wikipedia and put up whatever they want. This means that people with no qualifications in a particular subject area can still write information about it.


O’Reilly. Tim & Battelle. John (2009) Web Squared: Web 2.0 Five Years On. Retrieved 9th March 2012 from,

 Rogers. Clint & Liddle. Stephen (2007) Web 2.0 Learning Platform: Harnessing Collective Intelligence. Retrieved 9th March 2012 from,



Filed under Web 2.0

18 responses to “Web 2.0: Harnessing the Collective Intelligence

  1. zhuoranzhang

    I think wikipedia is a good place to get some base idea about a new field to me. But,that is really a problem that some of information in wikipedia is fake and unreliable. but, fortunately, most of group of wikipedia editors always provider clearer resource and features of wiki always provider a chance for other people to correct mistake. Harnessing the Collective Intelligence of web 2.0 just like a sieve of Internet to delete some junk or fake Data.I still like wikipedia very much.

    • There definitely isn’t any argument here about the flaws of Wikipedia, hence why most educational institutions don’t advise or accept using it as a form of research. However as you mentioned it is a good source for getting a quick and better understanding of a topic that allows you to springboard onto more reliable sources.

  2. good post, I agree with your point of view. Wiki is easy to achieve collaboration but any one who go into the Wikipedia can modify the context on it. Hence, sometimes you can not judge whether the information were wright or wrong. Especially, once you believe that information is true…….

    • You’re exactly correct on the point of exceptional use of online collaboration in the terms of Wikipedia, or any wiki for that matter, but offcourse there always will be the question of authenticity…

      • When reading wiki articles, one must always keep in mind that the information given might be false. But the thing about Wikipedia compared to other wikis is that it’s heavily moderated. Also, for every statement there is an outside source to support that statement (the references at the bottom of the page).
        I’m not saying that everything on Wikipedia is 100% true, but the information is so much more reliable now than it was a few years ago. So it is heading the right way, and I strongly believe that in another few years Wikipedia could be a reliable source of information.

  3. I wonder not just about the impact of people with no qualifications entering information but also people with an obvious bias updating wikipedia entries. There was the well-publicised case some time ago where the CIA and vatican were editing entries.

    • Wikipedia is still a work in progress in terms of a perfect resource material, I beleive its simply a great resource to give people a starting point or basic information on a certain view or topic.

  4. pip

    Hi Stevenson,nice to see you again, I really agree with your point . For Harnessing the collective Intelligence, the main things are collecting and sharing, and Wiki has completed those key points successfully. In my blog I discuss between AdSense and DoubleClick. plz have a look my old friend.

  5. hello,

    I agree with you about the reliability of the information. people may ask about that and company should or shouldn’t act on such information.

    thanks great post

    • Yea its ideally not a resource to base all your study or information on, although I know we all make this mistake on occasion due to its simplicity, but it can lead to incorrect information, not to mention bad habits for research.

  6. Wikipedia is an excellent example of collective intelligence. I agree with the sentiment that the information isn’t always reliable, but at least no one denies this issue, thus allowing information to be corrected.

  7. I think you have raised an important point about the reliability of information found on Wikipedia. While I personally think that neutral and “hard science” related topics are fairly reliable on Wikipedia (like most computer science related entries), other items that have something to do with religion, politics, history and such tend to be more problematic on the whole. And when the individual editors just can’t resolve a disagreement, one can witness the well-know phenomena of “edit warring”… (it’s worth looking up “lamest edit wars” on Wikipedia for a funny take on the issue).

    • Yes definitely I think we sometimes use Wikipedia without thinking about the way in which it obtains its information The fact that the encyclopedia comprising Wikipedia is written entirely by volunteers has been criticized many times due to the fact that sometimes people have a strong opinion about a subject, so they will try to control the articles about that subject. Things stated in articles need to have reliable sources, especially if there is controversy about them.

  8. I have used Wikipedia that many times and i cant remember the last assignment or research task i did without using it. I totally agree with you that Wikipedia is one of the top online search results and that is for good reason. The content on the Wikis nowadays is fantastic but i can also see why Education establishments *Cough* QUT were hesitant in letting us use it for assignment work. False information was constantly added to Wikipedia, ruining it for the rest of the people that used it for something worth while and not 5 seconds of fun when changing the content….

    I think Wikipedia is safe to use for assignments now that the pages are heavily moderated and the information there is far more credible than it was in the past.

  9. I do tend to agree with you on this point. Personally I have never used Wikipedia for research and then later on found out that the information was incorrect. Although I’m sure there are still some flaws, I think in as little as a couple of years, Wikipedia could be a credible and recognised area of research.

  10. Brett,

    Great work with using Wikipedia as a tool that clearly showcases the use of collective intelligence. I’m unfortunate to say that I go to wikipedia on a daily basis for general information on pretty much everything. I have to say that I have never doubted the information provided, even though I know I should! Many of times I’ve copied/pasted and believed what the users were telling me. tsk tsk. I think its interesting when looking at the vast majority of pages available and the extent of the content, how many people actually edit the pages? I wonder who sits at home on a daily basis and edits Wikipedia? And with true/correct information as well? haha Just a thought!

    Look forward to reading next week!


    • I wouldn’t feel bad Caitlin; I think most of us do have that approach to Wikipedia, including me!! I think Wikipedia is more like a hobby for the contributors, they obviously have a vast knowledge on certain topics, and like to showcase this to rest of the world.

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