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Collective Intelligence and Global Democracy

Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
4:26 am

I was intrigued with the following two tweets that appeared in my Twitter stream this morning, only three tweets apart in the stream:

From @newsbrooke: RT @johnmitchinson: ‘We could be on the cusp of a whole new global democracy” Another must read from @newsbrooke: bit.ly/mSXx0k

From @gartner_inc: Creativity, Social Exchange, & Collective Intelligence will Make the Future Better than past. gtnr.it/omppJE #GartnerPCC Summit.

The first referenced Heather Brooke, who spoke about the role of social media in the UK riots

There are always going to be new ways to communicate and a democratic society shouldn’t be afraid of that. That was the whole purpose of the First Amendment [to the US Constitution]. Free communication was never the enemy, it was the liberator. …

We could be on the cusp of a whole new global democracy, where individuals have incredible power or we  could become a global totalitarian society where all of us are under surveillance at all times.

The second tweet references a speech to be given by Matt Ridley at the Gartner Portals, Content & Collaboration Summit on September 21, 2011:

Matt Ridley argues that for most people in the world, the future is going to be inexorably better than the past for the following reasons. 1. Despite recessions and wars, human society has been getting wealthier, healthier, happier, cleverer, cleaner, freer, kinder, more peaceful and more equal. 2. Though we repeatedly expect this improvement to cease, yet it keeps defying the pessimists. 3. There is a reason that this happens – through exchange and specialization, a process that allows us to work efficiently for each other in an increasingly interdependent way that creates a sort of collective intelligence.

The two phrases that caught my attention were “global democracy” and “collective intelligence”.  I agree with Ms. Brooke that social networking does enhance the democratic voice of the people, and can be a powerful influence against totalitarianism.  The same phenomenon will contribute to our collective intelligence as we share ideas.   The challenge and opportunity is to sort through all the noise and ultimately find truth.

Back in 1995, following the advice of Stephen R. Covey, I established a personal mission statement.  One line in that statement is “Enhance Human Freedom through Global Electronic Communications.”  I like to think that my small participation in social media will indeed contribute to human freedom through sharing ideas in the ever-expanding network of people interconnected with global electronic communications.

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