Yesterday , my dad [a Mechanical Enginnering Veteran with 30+ years in Engine design] asked me to suggest a few good links to browze on the internet. Now thats difficult I thought. His interests are difinitely different from mine and I am not sure what he likes. So, while I was wondering what the solution would be for helping my dad find good webcontent, I stumbled upon StumleUpon. I have a SU account and have used it a couple of months back. But since my hard disk crashed I totally forget that it existed.
SU is good and I can say Very Good. It allows people all around to world to suggest good sites/content that they have visited . Other users can rates these pages and help improve the quality of content. This is in effect a little similar to digg and delicious but removes all the complexity and is fit for my dad. Who would find it strange even if the color of the logo changed. StumbleUpon to a good extent is an example of using the efforts and intelligence of millions of web users to generate value. This is what I would like to call social Intelligence.
In the real world we speak to friends , aquaintences etc and gather information. We create personal and formal networks and many professions rate a persons importance on the size of their rolodex aka personal network [LinkedIn, Ryze]. Social intelligence is much the same. Here you use the knowledge and efforts of people interested and exploring topics to suggest relavant material in their areaa of interest. While the current forms of social intelligence are realavant for surfing or browsing the internet, they are not suitable for all activities. For example if you were doing research on a particualr topic then SU may not help you much and search engines may be required to do the trick. [read google]
Search Engines Vs Social Recommendations
The purpose of SU and Google are entirely different and if you use SU to look for something you want, you may never find it. But it does something different it lets you window shop. And thats not bad either because most of the times we are not sure of what we are looking for or are not able to articulate it. In such cases Search Engines are less successfull. SU allows you to look at a wide variety of topics and some of the best sites with content on these topics.
Future of Social Intelligence
We should be seeing more of such applications in the near future. I do not see a finanical model yet in these applications. But the fact is that if the content is relavant then there should be a workable model to harnees the power of the millions of users on the internet.