Harnessing Collective Intelligence

During this weeks lecture regarding the web 2.0 pattern “Harnessing Collective Intelligence” I couldn’t help but sit and wonder if my ongoing car build thread on the Australian LandRover Owners forum had had any views and feedback. I have been slowly building up and modifying my car over the last 18 months and as I do little things I take photos and add my experiences to the thread. Then it suddenly struck me! This collective intelligence that the lecturer was discussing was exactly what I had been day dreaming about! I had never before that lecture really stopped to think that a forum is a web 2.0 environment. Made by users with a shared interest, maintained, improved and updates by the users colminating in a web 2.0 environment where the users are the architects of their own space.

Now in the case of the AULRO.com forum the collective intelligence is not so much in the form of people coding their own pages or developing little flash animations but rather it is the collection of each users own intellectual additions. Powered by the user to benefit the user. I would have been in a real mess if I hadnt found this online community with decades of accumulated knowledge and seemingly endelss enthusiasm to share it with one and other. This has given me the opportunity to ask a question to not only one person but potentially anyone of the 30,000+ users. All of which have the same basic interests as I do; Land Rovers!

After finding the area of the site that was specifically setup for my model of car it was then easy for me to create new threads asking what i wanted to know and having dozens of users read it and then leave comments and helpful information. Sometimes the feedback can be conflicting but its always helpful to get more then one angle.

This is a huge leap forward gone of the days when the only way you could find stuff out was to go to the dealer or a workshop and ask their opinion. For example one of the first things I wanted to do was to modify the suspension. I had approached a number of workshops around Brisbane and was met with uncertainty and lack of experience with that particular car. In the end it was a simple as me creating a new thread on the forum titled “D2 2″ lift, which way to go?” with a short paragraph about what I wanted to do and within 24hours I had 10 users respond! Some had done exactly what I was wanting to do and shared their experiences, some had gone further and gave me information on things to consider in future. The thread also attracted the interest of others like me that had be contemplating such a modification and joined the discussion to ask more questions regarding the topic.

It’s this kind of user generated content that is revolutionising the way we use the internet. Web 2.0 is all about communities of people working together and contributing their own pieces of expertise and sharing their experiences to build a rich, helpful and informative place on the web. A network of like minded individuals sharing information and learning at the same time.

The onflow of this for me personally has also been the social aspect. Its not like when I see someone driving around in a similar car to mine i go upto them and say “Hi, wanna be mates?” or “Hey can you tell me what the best tire size to run with a 2″ lift is?” The forum removes alot of the awkwardness created by physical social interactions and removes alot of the age barriers. I am one of the youngest members of the forum and as such in the real world is often disregarded as a kid, but in the forum they generally find out until you meet up for that drive on the sunday morning. By then it doesnt matter because they have seen what you have contributed to the community and are content that you are like them, a LandRover enthusiast, and a web 2.0 user, and together your harnessed collective intelligence is what forms the basis for the community.

If you’ve read all of that and you want to have a look at what im talking about this is the link to the build up thread of my car that I’m referring too http://www.aulro.com/afvb/discovery-2/71432-that_kid-joins-high-flyers.html

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