Knowledge <- Intelligence <- Wisdom

A glitch in the operating system of my computer has cut me from the Web for two days, which was challenging in many ways, but also giving me some interesting insights. I was not away from the Web for two consecutive days, since my last meditation retreat, 8 months ago. I an average day, I am jacked in and exchange messages, working documents, news and views with friends and colleagues, for 12 to 14 hours. The Web became an extension of my mind, and I became a neural node in its.
The challenges of coping with the “withdrawal symptoms” of the last two days brought me also the opportunity to look into deeper questions, for which I rarely have time, in the business of daily action. One of them is this:
What is the most valuable and unique contribution that I can make to our Emerging Planetary Reality? What is my place in the ecosystem of life-enhancing memes and services pointing to the possibility of a better world?
Is it creating more performing tools and methods for collaborative learning, work, and the self-organizing shared intelligence of communities? That’s how I’ve been seeing the nature of what I need to bring to my company’s stakeholders, for many years. But now, the emergence of the “social software” and “social networking” movements, and the many very talented people in and around them, make me think that the mightiest productive force of our times humankind’s collective intellect is already taking care of equipping itself with the right tools.
But will those tools and methods be sufficient to meet the Engelbartian challenge of increasing “complexity multiplied by urgency?” I don’t think so.


Our collective intellect is embodied in the choices that pioneers, innovators, and even late adapters and laggards, are making about their life and work, day after day. I will keep dancing with it, and bring the touch of my experience and perspective to to collaborative learning, community blogging, vircomm design, and the other domains of my work, but I sense a much a bigger need that has to be addressed.
It’s coming from the fact that none of today’s knowledge and communication tools are optimized for augmenting the intelligence of its users, individual and collective. Intelligence augmentation comes as a side effect and it could be much more effective and faster if it was the very focus of design and facilitation.
– It will take intelligence to elicit, stage, and guide the emergence of new knowledge.
– It will take collective wisdom to guide us from our current level of collective intelligence (CI 1.0) to CI 2.0.
“Wisdom has to do with not only intuiting the long view, understanding systems in the context of their larger whole, but also acting in resonance with what is known as true and lasting. Only wisdom can guide effective decisions on how we invest our attention, both individual and organizational, in the conditions of galloping ‘complexity multiplied by urgency’
How will that wisdom come into being? What can we do to midwife it?
Exploring and embodying together these questions is the highest adventure I can think of for the rest of my life’s work. (One of their merits is that that take away the artificial separation between work and life.) The “collective wisdom” perspective has to be part of any systemic effort to augment CI.
I would love to hear from anybody to whom these questions matter, who can appreciate the potential of liberating technologies supporting the development of collective wisdom, and vice versa. This is an invitation to a collaborative inquiry. Where should we begin?

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7 Responses to Knowledge <- Intelligence <- Wisdom

  1. Pierre Levy says:

    Hi George,
    I feel a deep resonnance between our minds on two points that you mentionned :
    1) “none of today’s knowledge and communication tools are optimized for augmenting the intelligence of its users, individual and collective. Intelligence augmentation comes as a side effect and it could be much more effective and faster if it was the very focus of design and facilitation.”
    2) “Exploring and embodying together these questions is the highest adventure I can think of for the rest of my life’s work. (One of their merits is that that take away the artificial separation between work and life.) The “collective wisdom” perspective has to be part of any systemic effort to augment CI.”
    I think that what can bring together tools explicitely designed for intelligence augmentation and mix of work (efficiency) and life (wisdom) is *culture*. A culture is an integrated ecosystemic whole that includes technology, work and lasting truth (sacred). So I can express our problem (in the noblest sense of this term) this way : how can we live our lives in cultivating for ourselves and around us, a culture of collective intelligence ?
    What is the business of creating (designing, testing, sharing, spreading together…) a culture ?

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  2. Communities and Discovery

    Will Conversational Blogging merge into a new thread around the impact of emerging blogging tools, for accelerating innovation, and trust across communities. How can the knowledge, intelligence and wisdom be leveraged? What boundaries should an organi…

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  3. Seb says:

    Tom Toffoli is concerned with this same problem of creating a new culture. Check out http://kh.bu.edu/

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  4. George Por says:

    Seb, thanx 4 the link.
    I think we will see more and more large-scale group-formation initiatives and the “Knowledge Home” people at Boston U are right, the limitation is not in the technology. The decisive factor in the unavoidable emergence of virtual nations is “storytelling.” The best stories will become the attractors.

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  5. Yes, but what is the best ? Is it the story that attracts the most people at highest speed, or the story who has the best long term effects on the story-tellers and the people who listen to them ?

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  6. George Por says:

    One of the most successful stories that i can think of is evolution itself. Any smaller story aligned with, and supporting it, such as CI, will; be benefitting from it IFboth differentiation and integrated well supported by the movement, through which the story is telling itself.

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  7. This article on Global Mind by Nova Spivack might be of interest to you:
    http://novaspivack.typepad.com/nova_spivacks_weblog/2006/01/lets_build_the_.html

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