Relinquishing control of social media – collective intelligence or chaos?
The current ‘internet’ age can be described as ‘dodging’ a myriad of ‘double-edged swords’.
The founder of the web, Mr. Tim Berners-Lee fully intended the web to be a platform for people (from all backgrounds no matter their geographic location, race, religion or education level) to ‘share’ information and knowledge in a ‘co-creative and collaborative’ way, what Pierre Levy calls ‘collective intelligence’.
Yet the so to speak freedom of expression, freedom of sharing and creativity also creates all sorts of ‘chaos’. Critics warn of a loss of quality and accuracy of information if channels of communication are open and even fear of ‘mob rule’.
The essence of social media as a two-way interactive and inter-connected authentic and open dialogue has come a long way and is a significant shift from traditional and mass media, which was a top down, one-way communication of a controlled information and response.
While this is a refreshing change with great potential and an opportunity for genuine participation and freedom of speech, expression and sharing of ideas – it also raises concerns of privacy, intellectual property, and whether we are actually gaining social equality and intelligence from online communication. The question of how content and comment is created and used or ‘re-used’, how to respond to criticism and inaccuracy, and how to manage social media quickly and efficiently in an online world that is instantaneous, constantly changing and is never switched off is complex.
Many governments, organisations and individuals today are trying to harness “collective intelligence” through social media, while still questioning how to control the potential issues associated with the openness, transparency and uncertainty that is inherent in the social media environment.
Richard MacManus (1995) says social media “is an attitude, not a technology” and the underlying principle is relinquishing control”.
What do you believe? What’s your attitude? Is collective intelligence outweighing the chaos?
Macnamara, J (2010) The 21st Century Media (R)evolution: Emergent Communication Practices, Peter Lang, New York.