How do we tap the collective wisdom?

The internet has become a great enabler in democratizing information. The elitism of paid information easily accessible by a rich few has been replaced by a wealth of knowledge accessible via a few mouse clicks in our own homes. And yet, for all the positives the internet provides, our own sub-cultural biases steer us to content that often reinforces our own ignorance, as opposed to enlightening our understanding of the world and the people in it.

I sat opposite Amber Case, a cyborg anthropologist at dinner last night. As much as I struggled to understand much of what she was saying, it none the less challenged me in ways I didn’t think possible. She spoke of dimensional space, what we can and cannot see, and asked whether the internet was the 4th dimension. Eric Rice sitting beside me said in response that he finds himself considering what is behind an object or person in seeking to understand the full picture. I’ve since tried visualizing things from the perspective of what I can’t see; I have no solid idea what the purpose of doing so is, but the lateral thinking involved may, with time, help me develop a broader sense of looking at the larger picture in any situation as opposed to what Case describes as a two dimensional view.

I cannot honestly provide a fair assessment of this wisdom having true validity, and some one else that night suggested that there was way too many drugs being taken by those at the table, a call which in the past I probably would have agreed with, and yet I know that in part by chance (I was invited to the table at the last minute) I had discovered notions that I was not previously aware of, a wisdom that was foreign to my own.

There are other stories I could use from my week in Seattle, but I purposely picked the extreme case in terms of thought as a challenge to our understanding of collective wisdom. That knowledge exists, and that we as humans continue our long march towards understanding is a given proven throughout history, but how do we better tap the collective wisdom, and what role does the internet play?

We’ve covered the echochamber of the Crunchmemeosphere previously on The Inquisitr, and yet it is only one particularly small part of the collective echo. Conferences like Gnomedex go some way in sharing wisdom that may not be as well understood or explained, and yet it is the domain of a select few with the money or foresight to attended. The age of Barcamps and Podcamps and unconferences is upon us, and yet like Gnomedex they often suffer from a collective echo imposed upon them by geography. Ross Dawson’s Future of Media Summit drew an audience in Silicon Valley and Sydney together to share and discuss media, but in reaching across continents it still did not open its doors to a broader wisdom to those without the presence, or finances to attend. We have comments on blogs, or discussion threads in video on Seesmic, but do they truly allow us to yet fully tap the collective wisdom?

The answer may not have been invented, nor even technologically feasible, but there must be a better way. Could it be the next generation of virtual spaces, technology that will allow us to fully emerge ourselves into a shared space of reality based sharing where we can collaborate no matter where we are on the globe as if we were actually there? Or is it something else machine enabled that will allow our 2.0 tech world to emerge into 3.0 or 4.0 as a movement of global enlightenment that delivers the collective wisdom as a force for good. Ask yourself that if we are all so smart today why we still have wars, or why people starve, why Armageddon is still a red button away, and we continue to look at our own problems in a narrow perspective when as Scott Maxwell noted when he showed the first picture of Earth taken from another planet, we are but a small spec in the universe.

We may not have the answers, but we can start the movement for change. Listen to opinions and voices different to your own, accept that you do not know everything, and develop your own knowledge further, leading by example. It’s a small thing, but it may be a start.