Visual panoramas: Re: [ba-unrev-talk] "Collective IQ" cannot exist
I like this comment by sphealey: (01)
"The first topic for the online concensus-building system should be a discussion
of whether such technology really works, or even helps.
"Over the last 15 years I have participated in quite a few document management,
groupware, collaboration, and automated document generation tool
implementations. In between I have also worked on some fairly big (200 million
USD) engineering projects. Care to guess the best "collaboration tool" I have
ever used? A red marking pen (I like Uniball Fine Point), a large table, the
marked-up hardcopies from the 4-5 people actually participating in the work (out
of the 200 "involved"), and a fresh copy to write the final version. Sometimes I
even used a scissors and tape to "cut and paste".
"The system beat all the groupware and collaboration software I have used by 3
or 4 orders of magnitude." (02)
He's talking about a winning technology that no-one seems to have captured as PC
Because the key factor in that tool (imho) is "a large table". Emphasis on
large; large visual panorama, easy to scan, all in focus.
I've edited books (1000+pp & multi-author) in the past and have often found that
to get a high level of coherence the large table wasn't large enough, so we used
a significant tract of floorspace instead.
Incidentally, this process still requires dead-tree hard copy too.
All-electronic desktop publishing? No, the screen's too small. (03)
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jack Park" <email@example.com>
Sent: Saturday, August 17, 2002 5:57 PM
Subject: [ba-unrev-talk] "Collective IQ" cannot exist (05)
> Well, I made the front page of kuro5hin:
> A review of my paper, written by jGrll, whoever she is (a scientist, at
> The slides are at http://www.nexist.org/em2002/
> I have heard that they are hard to read in some browsers. Maybe I should
> rebuild them with OpenOffice which might be nicer than PowerPoint in
> making html slides.
> I think the review is fair, even good, hell, maybe great! It provoked the
> kinds of argument I would like to see.
> There were some comments that I was using the talk to sell NexistWiki. I'm
> really sorry I came across that way. NexistWiki is just *one* of, I hope,
> many such experiments looking for ideas that will contribute to Doug's OHS
> vision. I have just one central thesis being developed with NexistWiki:
> that finding and connecting dots is a useful thing to do. The comment
> below that refers to what NexistWiki is about as a " never ending
> processes", I think, nails it!
> Of greater importance, I think, is what I put in the subject line
> here. There are those individuals who think that technology will not play
> a useful role in solving complex, urgent problems. These are, I think,
> intelligent points of view, and certainly worth further consideration.
> There are others who think that problems will not be solved through
> education (as I do think). Certainly worthy thoughts, but not, I think,
> show stoppers when it comes to implementing my beliefs.
> Some who commented never visited NexistWiki at least long enough to see
> that it doesn't let anyone mess with the contributions of others, as
> ordinary Wikis do.
> In any case, I've copied in some of my favorite comments below. Reading the
> entire page online takes a long time, but, for those of us who support
> Doug's vision, the entire article is worth reading.
> Many thanks to jGrlll, whoever she really is, for a thoughtful commentary
> on my talk.
> The problem with all of Park's theories is that humans are creatures of
> chemicals. What one "knows" on an intellectual level means nothing on an
> emotional or physical level, and these sets of facts we keep are colliding
> all the time. Every human has a set of rules he believes in, but he also
> has a set of excuses he uses for breaking the rules (hypocrisy, which
> everyone has a little of).
> Knowledge has a limit; first, I can only keep so many facts in my head, and
> second, 90% of everything is utter crap. This includes knowledge. Third,
> idiocy and malice corrupt the knowledge base, because some people don't
> care about knowledge.
> At the heart of it all, knowledge is not wisdom. I remember Gary Gygax
> saying, when he was trying to explain the difference between intelligence
> and wisdom in his game, that his intelligence is decently high, and so he
> knows that smoking cigarettes will kill him eventually, but that his wisdom
> is rather low, in that he continues to do it without regard for the
> Consensus is not wisdom, or even intelligence, either. Things designed by
> committee are considered poor as a general rule. Consensus also does not
> truly exist except on the most basic ideas; majorities exist. We can't be
> sure that the majority isn't wrong (Galileo's opponents are proof of that),
> and as long as the Flat Earth Society exists, it is clear we're going to
> have a problem with consensus...so we're kind of screwed here.
> I would go so far as to say it's the opposite; after a "critical mass" of
> minds are working on a problem, the "collective IQ" actually becomes
> smaller! There are other problems with Park's theories, but this is all I'm
> going to go into. +1 FP anyway, though; it'll make for good discussion fodder.
> You're complaints are only relevant if one takes the view that
> knowledge/intelligence/wisdom can be distilled into solid "nuggets" that,
> once "known" can safely be stored away for later use. But, if you step back
> from that view, and imagine that one or all three of these things might be
> better described as never ending processes, then things look different.
> Consensus looks more like death, whereas wisdom/intelligence becomes
> inseperable from the act of debating/talking itself.
> It's good that there is flat earth society. Once 100% consensus is reached,
> our "knowledge" turns into habit and instinct, which we do not normally
> take as signs of intelligence. The "collective IQ" might then look like the
> overall quality of our discussions. Our collective knowledge isn't the last
> comment in a thread - it's spread throughout the thread, even the comments
> that seem completely wrong
> The problem in our culture is that people assume our way of life is
> inevitable. Overwhelming Factual Evidence, which seems to be what Mr. Park
> is trying to get to everyone, could help, but it isn't going to kill off
> apathy and the belief that This Way Of Life Is Inevitable. That requires
> something else.
> I was having a discussion with a coworker of mine a few months ago. He's a
> fairly typical right winger. He's very pro-American and pro-American
> lifestyle. We had the globe out and were discussing oil in the middle east
> through central asia. In the course of the discussion he says to me, "you
> know, I used to think all the countries of the world were holding the US
> back. Now I realize it's the other way around." When I hear that from
> someone who believes our way of life is correct, it tells me that knowledge
> isn't the problem, it's cultural inertia, selfishness, and just a general
> disconnect that knowledge alone can't fix.
> In addition, the sensory limits of the internet have a very limited ability
> to impart a kind of "direct experience". If you really want to understand
> what's happening in a remote location, you need to be there. You need to be
> able to see it with your own eyes, hear the sounds, taste and smell what's
> in the air. There is no technology out there that can recreate reality in a
> way that is convincing to our senses.
> That all being said, I am hopeful that ideas like this can help. There is
> always the chance that talking and reading about things we never thought of
> or knew about can start to shift our cultural inertia. I'm just not quite
> as hopeful as Mr. Park.
> I want to like the idea. But I see some problems that need to be sorted out.
> The success of any collaberative project depends on all of the people
> working on it. This is true for everything from a childhood game to a
> university assignment to solving ecological problems. You can either choose
> to restrict participation, in which case you limit yourself to the ideas
> and experience of those admitted to the group, or you can open
> participation, and wind up with the problems of flaming, trolling, spamming
> and whatnot always complained about on weblogs.
> So the problem comes down to how to rate users and their contribution. An
> open rating system like kuroshin or slashdot allows for the broadest range
> of thought, but allows for abuses as well. A top-down system invariably
> shuts out some valuable ideas, but provides better control over "problem"
> users. Both systems have the risk of groupthink, where "truths" become
> defined and users and contributers either bend their views to fit the
> dominant ideology of the group, or the group represses the dissenting
> viewpoint. Can people learn to participate in such a community without
> falling into these traps?
> NexistWiki sounds like an incredible tool for working on small scale
> projects or projects within semi-closed groups, but I do not think it will
> provide a system where everyone is able to contribute to "a general
> increase in knowledge". It might, however, contribute to a general increase
> in insight. My favorite part of the presentation was the discussion of
> "connecting the dots." If I know about Idea X that works well in one area,
> and I am reading about something that seems like it would be improved by
> Idea X, I can dot the two and draw a tenative line between them. Someone
> who is an expert on Idea X and someone who is an expert in the potentially
> related field could look at my line and decide if it has potential, or if I
> was off base. If it worked, it could be flagged as a "good line," and if
> not, flagged as a "bad line" to prevent duplication. To me, this kind of
> innovation is what could come out of NexistWiki, not an increase in
> knowledge or in general wisdom.
> The thing is, he does mean what you say, that the best knowledge comes from
> finding the dots and connecting the appropriately. My point (obliquely
> stated, but present) is whether a collaborative web document will actually
> do that. The issues of signal to noise become crucial. Ratings don't always
> reflect quality of information, just ability to sound convincing. Witness
> your games with Physics Genius.
> A decent write-up. Unfortunately, Park's presentation is all but unreadable.
> XML Topic Maps: Creating and Using Topic Maps for the Web.
> Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-74960-2.