David Bollier has produced a new report that distills the proceedings of a conference of the Aspen Institute and is entitled, The Rise of Collective Intelligence.
Here is a summary of some of the topics covered by the report, from David Bollier:
“bottom-up knowledge empowers ordinary individuals to approach market transactions on a more equal footing with sellers, who have historically had greater market power and knowledge. The commoners are able to capture more of the knowledge they create, and use it to their own advantage. Indeed, the commons can be regarded as a source of cutting-edge R&D for companies, as MIT professor Eric von Hippel has shown in his book, Democratizing Innovation.
The phrase that the conference used to describe this phenomenon is â€œdecentralized co-creation of value.â€ It means that the market is not the sole source of value-creation; dispersed online communities are now sources of value that businesses must collaborate with in order to generate value. The commons stands on a more equal footing with the market. Instead of all â€œvalueâ€ coming from centralized players like corporations, increasingly, value is coming from the â€œendsâ€ of the Internet â€“ the periphery, where new ideas and innovations first materialize. Value comes from individuals, and groups of individuals, operating in the free space of the commons, where overhead is low to nonexistent, and creativity is not regimented to service prearranged market niches. Thanks to the Internet, social niches are becoming â€œstaging areasâ€ for viable niche markets, a phenomenon also known as the â€œLong Tail.â€
All of these developments create a real crunch for traditional large corporations because large companies like to have extreme control. Thatâ€™s how they deliver predictable results to investors and protect their brand reputation. But on the Internet, control and predictability are not viable strategies. In fact, they are counter-productive. Value is generated by having less control. Customers wonâ€™t trust a company that tries to use digital rights management or bullying tactics to assert too much control. In a sense, companies are not just competing against other companies, but against the freedoms of the commons.
The challenge for businesses, then, is to develop new sorts of â€œopen businessâ€ models that can respect the social dynamics of the Internet, while still monetizing certain forms of value (e.g., selling advertising to the Web users who like your site). Companies have to realize that brands are forms of socially created value; brands are not simply the result of advertising and image campaigns. Online communities create and promote a brand every bit as much as mass media.”