Combining social and electronic technologies for large-scale, collaborative meaning making

Large-scale, collaborative meaning making is a vital condition for dealing with crises and turning breakdowns into breakthroughs, locally and globally.
To be effective, the social technologies for facilitating that transformation need to be supported by the best what emergent electronic technologies can offer. For example:
Imagine to couple Personal Brain with a robust taxonomy-builder and a semantic engine,
all rolled up into a rapid-deployment learning environment that can be easily customized
for any knowledge domain or project, by community tech stewards, including non-programmers.
What do you see? What could such system enable?
What new community, organisational, and global capacities could be afforded by it?
Here’s my take on what it should help us with:

– connecting dots in fast-moving, kaleidoscopic landscape
– portraying 3d patterns of emergent meaning
– ensuring that large bundles of meaning embedded in rich media can travel far and fast
– freeing unseen and unimaginable social creativity, at all scale
Such a virtual environment should assist us in making sense of the world, under the simultaneous, current conditions of devolutionary danger and opportunity overload.
It can be envisioned and prototyped only in a collaborative effort by all those who have talents and energy to bring to it.
Picture 7.pngInterestingly, it is a low-tech, paper-based tool that can come handy in the initial brainstorming about the affordances that we’d require from such system. It is called CardSorting, and now that I’ve discovered it, I want to experiment more with it and report you on the results.
Btw, I started playing with and wrote about technologies for collaborative meaning making in 1986 (see the TranspacNet story), but the current articulation of these ideas is inspired by conversations I had in London with colleagues and friends last Friday, in the KIDMM meeting in the British Computer Society, and in the RSA.

This entry was posted in Collaborative Sense-Making, Collaborative Taxonomy, Democracy and CI, Knowledge Ecology, Technologies That Support CI and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Combining social and electronic technologies for large-scale, collaborative meaning making

  1. It was I who ran the session at the KIDMM/ISKO conference which George Pór refers to. I have started to write about Cardsorting and related elicitation techniques at and I shall be writing more there in coming weeks on the same subject.


  2. George Por says:

    Thanks Conrad for letting us know about it.


  3. Ed says:

    Hi George,
    it was a great workshop; we really enjoyed it and thanks to Conrad for organising it.
    Like Conrad, I run similar workshops for people who know that they want/need some ‘stuff’ but haven’t quite got their fingers on what that ‘stuff’ is.
    This is a multi-layered problem which can be cleared up with some transparency.
    After a few years as an agency-side internet producer (1997 – 2001), I felt that clients were not being encouraged by the technical providers to thoroughly explore this ‘want/need issue’ and place it into their organisational requirements (be that a community, network, dating service etc.) before considering technology.
    So Dan Dixon (Senior Lecturer, UWE, Web Design) and I have considered how to help with this. Dan pointed us to earlier work by architects using pattern languages to help communicate the work with their clients.
    We found that this translates very clearly to strategic planning for internet (and offline) spaces, and have since put it in action with dot com start-ups and membership organisations very effectively.
    Clients find a common understanding of their needs, a shared language, and an emergent model of what ‘social architecture’ they might be considering.
    Only then they are in an empowered position to make sustainable decisions.
    You might think ‘well of course’, but Dan and I had only rarely seen this in our different clients before.
    We are in the process of formalising all the ‘patterns’ and workshop tools we use with clients and publishing them onto a wiki…


  4. Our recent book “The Engelbart Hypothesis: Dialogs with Douglas Engelbart” by Valerie Landau and Eileen Clegg in conversation with Douglas Engelbart explores the vision and methodology of Doug Engelbart for augmenting collective intelligence and includes perspectives from thought leaders in the field including: Vint Cerf, Lev Gonick of Case Western Reserve, Christina Woolsey Hooper, and others.
    Eileen Clegg and I spent almost six years in dialog with Engelbart along with students and scholars around the world in order to clearly articulate the Engelbartian vision for augmenting human intellect.
    British Historian James Burke wrote a review of our book and wrote: “”We are at a decision crossroads. And as this book vividly demonstrates, Doug Engelbart as been there all along, waiting for us with the answer.”
    Historian James Burke


    • Maria says:

      When community inelteiglnce becomes market inelteiglnce Have you ever wondered what is common in e2€œcommunity inelteiglnce,e2€9d swarm inelteiglnce, smart mobs and tipping points ? According to market inelteiglnce guru, Britton Manasco, they are all about a e2€œdrift toward potential innovations that draw on t


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