Participate in a study on collective intelligence!

• Written by Simon Tegg

Loomio has received a small grant from Catalyst to help Litemap and Assembl develop their collective intelligence tools. These tools enable users to map the structure of a discussion and visualise the connections between people, thought and action.

If you're interested in participating please fill out this form.

Participants will use Loomio, Litemap, and Assembl to map out the discussion theme of “what should web-based tools for direct democracy look like in the future?”. We hope to gain a comprehensive view of this theme and insight into the best practices for generating collective intelligence online.

‘Collective intelligence’ – the idea that the intelligence of a group has the potential to be greater than any one group member acting alone – was one of the main inspirations behind Loomio. The loomio team experiences this every week. Someone will bring up a point that we had never thought of, or put into words what we were thinking but didn't know how to say and we’ll weave these points into the decision.

The internet era has increased the potential for collective intelligence to happen on a mass scale. Other teams have been similarly inspired an created tools geared towards large-scale collective intelligence. The idea is that by allowing participants to see the overall structure of the discussion, and a more structured approach to providing syntheses in the case of Assembl, participants can gain a greater sense of what ground has been covered and where agreement and contention lie.

Assembl is being developed by Imagination For People (a non-profit which helps social entrepreneurs and engaged communities develop ideas and projects that lead to a more collaborative and responsible world) and bluenove (an open innovation consulting and technology company operating in Paris and Montreal).

Litemap is part of a research project of the UK-based Knowledge Media Institute.

Assembl screenshot

Assembl users enter comments in a discussion theme as they do in Loomio.  Users can harvest nuggets and associate them to an idea (the middle panel), and map out the discussion structure as a table of ideas (the left panel) which can subsequently be used to navigate the discussion. The Assembl team have built a feature to import discussions from Loomio using the discussion Atom feed. This will be very useful during the test discussions, and is one of the first Loomio integrations of what we hope will be many more.

Litemap screenshot Litemap works as a browser extension and a mind map editor. Users harvest content from wherever they find it on the web, and create specific types of elements (topics, issues, ideas, and arguments), which they link together in order to form a structured mind map.

I find both of these approaches intriguing. Outside of Loomio, I work as web developer with an interest in data visualisation. Different choices in the way information is presented will inevitably highlight some aspects of the data and obscure others. The thrust of data visualisation is to present information for knowledge and understanding. Web-based data visualisations can also allow users to interact with and explore complex data without being overwhelmed.****

Can we achieve the same thing with discussion and issue “data”? For Loomio beta we focused on a simple, accessible flow of comments with a pie chart and vote tally. This works well for small to moderate high trust groups and moderately complex issues. Different approaches may be needed for larger groups, and/or more complex issues. Presenting rich information to groups about their own activity as they generate it could lead to richer shared understandings.

Please sign up if you’re interested, and share this blog post on your own networks. The more participants, the more options we will have in the study.

Participant sign-up form

We’re looking forward to seeing the results of Catalyst project!

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