Monday, December 08, 2003

The 7500+ people in this group, and the untold others that didn't
make it to Cloudmakers or Spherewatch or the other groups that wanted
to go it alone...we are all one.

We have made manifest, the idea of an unbelievably intricate
intelligence. We are one mind, one voice...made of 7500+ neurons.
Our thoughts, our actions formed one, guiding the path before
much as it guided us.

Via Jane McGonigal's paper on Collective Detective. Jane McGonigal is an instructor and PhD student at Berkley.

Something about Collective Detective has caught the imaginations of many in the blogosphere. I have several pages bookmarked, including this and these two posts from Seb's Open Research. Like Sebastien Paquet, I'm very interested in asking if this amazing phenomenon can be turned to more lasting purpose. I think there are definitely clues to creating a collective supermind here, but a precautionary note is in order.

The Cloudmakers were a "collective detective" for a *game*. Remember that.
It was scripted. There were clues hidden that were gauged for us. It was
*narrative*. There may well be seven thousand of us. Only a percentage of
those seven thousand were directly involved in the "collective detective".

I have said it before, and I'll say it again:

This is not a game.

The answers to this are not straightforward, nor will they be easy to find.
The members of this group are in NO WAY in possession of the full facts or
even a portion thereof. It is highly unlikely that members of this group
will *ever* be in possession of even half of all the facts.
No one here has access to forensics materials. On the off chance that there
are those who do, there are reasons for not sharing details of those.

Irwin pointed out that the FBI has over 11,000 agents. *EVERY* US Federal
Agency and Body that can be called into service has been. Do not go getting
delusions of grandeur.

Cloudmakers solved a story. This is real life.

Members of the CM community live in Manhattan, in areas being evacuated
_now_. I had friends who were in the WTC the day before Tuesday and as
_soon_ as I heard the news, I was on the phone.

Use the CM community for messages of support. Talk about what's happened.
But I will *NOT* tolerate conspiracy theories or rumour mongering here. Let
the properly appointed people do their jobs and do some *real* help.


Dan Hon (co-moderator)
Andrhia Phillips (co-moderator)
Adrian Hon (co-moderator)
Bronwen Liggitt (co-moderator)
Brian Seitz (co-moderator)

It's worthwhile thinking about what real life situations this group might well be suited for - and which are least likely. Anything requiring secrecy is at the bottom of the list - Cloudmaker and Collective Detective would be very different if extensive security checks were required to join! Criminals and terrorists cannot be tipped off about being under investigation. In general, anything where a single mistake might cause disaster is problematic - many discoveries are by trial and error.

This brings us to political discussion. So far many of the projects they are engaged in seem worthy but idiosyncratic, as in this Collective Detective Think Tank effort. While wishing these twins the best, I believe preventing the spread of HIV should be a higher priority - and I didn't actually see that in the discussion list.

Great leaps are necessary to stretch the limits of global thought. People often seem more emotionally involved with their political opinions than the pieces of a puzzle - and usually some of the most knowledgeble people in any political question have strong vested interests. It would be interesting to see a puzzle requiring members to deal with these two problems, though I don't see how at the moment. Also, perhaps a puzzle with many parts, some of which cannot be solved, and which must be abandoned in favor of other priorities to avoid utter failure.

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