Jean Lievens: Harnessing Collective Wisdom from Social Networks

Jean Lievens
Jean Lievens

In his 1937 book, Think and Grow Rich, author Napoleon Hill identified 13 steps to success, one of which was the power of the mastermind. “No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible, intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind,” Hill wrote.

He included the step to explain a principle of achievement — the standard idea that two heads, or a group of heads, are better than one at creating innovations. More than 75 years later, new research aims to put Hill’s mastermind idea on steroids.

Until recently, decision makers could only effectively harness shared creativity from relatively small mastermind groups such as boards, panels or committees. Data from these could be placed in pre-organized, well-structured and well-categorized “buckets” to extract creative knowledge.

The relatively recent growth and development of the Internet, however, along with social network technology, provides an opportunity to expand the mastermind concept to hundreds, or thousands or even hundreds of thousands of geographically distant people.

University of Cincinnati complex systems scientist Ali Minai and a team of researchers funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) are attempting to do just that — to develop computer-based tools to mine the Internet and communities of social media for creative insights.

Harnessing Collective Wisdom from Social Networks

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