Collective Wisdom synopsis

This is a synopsis of the report on Collective Wisdom, an innovation-research project carried out by Mark Abouzeid in collaboration with Carmen Ciciriello between 2003 and 2004.  It investigates the potential for identifying disruptive innovation as it develops at the microscopic level using human behaviour as a primary signal.

The report isolates five variables: 1) change in normal human behaviour as the leading indicator of disruptive innovation and new trends; 2) the internet and other forms of binary media provide a valid mirror for all human interaction; 3) the temporal nature of this media adds memory to the equation allowing us to track change over time; 4) disruptive innovation is born on the edge of chaos where seemingly casual relationships come together and reach critical inertia; 5) markets develop as complex adaptive systems with hubs or ‘strange attractors’ acting as viral agents.

Thus a ‘black box’ system to predict disruptive effects on established markets is defined: 1) identifying new behaviour or intent to change; 2) tracking development over time; 3) mapping innovation to potentially effect markets and products; 4) observing the complex network driving a new market as it adapts.

This manifesto outlines one such solution as a provocation not a ready application.  The supporting theory, innovation development flows and sample visualizations together constitute ‘Collective Wisdom – discovering innovation in chaos’.

Collective Wisdom (CW) is a project about the true nature of disruptive innovation.  Driven by sociological and scientific approaches, it debunks current efforts by companies to foster innovation while providing a formal methodology for identifying, tracking and planning strategies that can successfully address new markets.

CW is a theory and tool to communicate the nature and developmental process of disruptive innovation.  The aim is to unite different worlds and disciplines into a unique understanding of how new markets form and how companies can best respond.

CW presents a complete theoretical paradigm and practical application as a provocation for future study and development.  It is not meant to be interpreted as final, market ready application.

All systems, applications and algorithms incorporated in CW already exist in the market and are in use, albeit for alternate purposes, by well established companies.

Findings of CW have been validated, as best possible, using a internally developed alpha model of the defined application that harvests historical data from Google Groups and Alta Vista search engine.