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Blogging DEMO – The Wisdom of crowds

The second session focused on leveraging the knowledge of communities of people for search, conversation management and idea promotion/analysis.

Creating communities of people such as MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning etc. makes it much easier to access the knowledge and experience in the minds of people – a rich set of resources assuming you can access and qualify that knowledge.

The companies that presented in this session applied collective knowledge to many different areas and with different ways of capturing and applying that knowledge to build value.  After thinking about these different ideas, I classify them into four themes.

  • Collaborative annotation
  • People directed search
  • Conversation tracking
  • Idea analysis and promotion

Collaborative annotation Diigo demonstrated a capability to allow group annotation of web content via a browser plug-in.  The capability allows a user to highlight and annotate (via virtual yellow stickies) web pages and then share the annotated pages with an individual or a group.  Think of a mashup between StumbleUpon and Digg complete with social networking.  Diigo creates an annotation layer of content that can be shared; rated or searched that is helpful for research or collaborative discovery.

People directed search – Attendi showed a search engine that enables you to locate subject matter experts to answer specific questions.  Users can register a profile with Attendi where they specify their interests and knowledge and indicate their willingness to answer questions on their areas of expertise.  Users willing to answer questions alert Attendi when they are online and available – other users can search the subject matter experts by query much like Google except the results returned are users, not web pages.  Attendi shows the profiles and rankings of the subject matter experts and then allows a chat session to be initiated between the searcher and expert.

Conversation tracking – a conversation in this context is a stream of related comments centered on an item of web content (picture, video, blog post etc.) with the tracking capability alerting you to the conversation and providing tools such as search, community ranking etc.   RelevantMind and CoComment both showed sites aimed at tracking and searching conversations.  RelevantMind organizes conversations around products that are categorized by vertical interests (cycling, running, cooking…) with the goal to help users research and buy different products.  CoComment attacks the problem of conversations based on interests and content – for example, debates on news topics – by tracking conversations across multiple web sites.  CoComment is a browser extension that implements a sidebar alongside the web page of interest and shows related conversations.

Idea analysis and promotion – the premise behind this theme is to use collective knowledge to provide rating, improvement and promotion of ideas using the combined knowledge of a group of people.  The purpose is to select and promote good ideas – improving them through group interaction and bubbling the good ideas to the top for implementation, sale etc.  Think Digg for ideas and innovation coupled with workflow management.  Fluid Innovations and Spigit showed sites focused at corporate users – Fluid Innovations targeted at helping large corporation explore which new product concept to bring to market by leveraging public interest and knowledge while Spigit focused more on helping corporations select and improve internal ideas.

Advanta showed a site for sharing and improving business ideas by getting community feedback, helping connect entrepreneurs with potential mentors while using the knowledge of the community to rank ideas.  Ideas compete for monthly prizes that are awarded to the highest ranked ideas.

We are seeing just the beginning of the application of community identity and knowledge to solving problems – whether it is finding experts or using the wisdom of crowds to filter and improve.  Many of the business models are unclear and there is a limit to how many businesses will make it on advertising!  That said, targeting and unlocking the knowledge contained in social (whether personal or business related) networks is a largely untapped resource and one that has much promise.


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Intense Brit, lived in Silicon Valley since 1984. Avid pilot, like digital photography, ham radio and a bunch of other stuff. Official Geek.

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