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Ideation and collective intelligence platforms

Connected, Creative, Collective IntelligenceThe UTS Connected Intelligence Centre (CIC) operates as a creative incubator to catalyse thinking about the impact of algorithmic intelligence on education, research, and society more broadly. It does this by engaging the Collective Intelligence at (and beyond) UTS, making use of human-centred Connected Intelligence approaches (combining the digital, physical, and social through technology), to develop and enact Creative Intelligence (see UTS strategy) – we aim to work with the expertise of stakeholder groups to design tools that help groups to innovate and that help them in innovative ways.

We’re doing this at multiple granularities – from local projects aiming to understand what data is available in particular silos, etc., to coarser grain work around themes (e.g. writing analytics) – and one area I’m interested in developing is how we work with platforms to collate, foster, and co-construct innovation.

The CATALYST European project has written a lot around this area (see e.g. here), with a Mark Klein (at MIT) also recently writing a great review of platforms: A Critical Review of Crowd-Scale Online Deliberation Technologies and a nice writeup in the Sloan Management Review on Open Innovation for organisations and product development.  There’s also a long list of ideation platforms here (although, ironically it’s just a list – so it’s pretty hard to navigate/differentiate features).

I’m starting (starting) to think about how we might use these in our work, what categories of platform are available, and how we might modify or build on existing platforms to create something for our own purposes. Of course lots of tools can be used to collect knowledge, and many content management systems are used for just this purpose (from WordPress to enterprise solutions), as well as of course Wikis (e.g. we built some nice semantic stuff into the ORBIT project at Cambridge). At the moment, though, I’m interested in more specifically designed tools, and the range of functionality available across them.  I’ll write a post soon about some possible applications for these tools.

Suggestion-centric platforms

In these the context tends to be fairly bottom up and defined by the suggestion itself or the particular setting (e.g. an organisation), rather than a top-down assigned topic or problem.  Obviously petition sites, and many customer relations/voice/experience tools (e.g. UserVoice & various others, I wrote about some in my Nominet report) involve obtaining feedback on specific actionable issues.  At the Open University ideascale has been in use for a while now to source suggestions from OU staff, which can be voted (and commented) on, aligned with particular aims, and progressed through a project flow.  It looks like a new system called AHHHA will do something similar…

Open Source Suggestion-Centric platforms

  1. BBYIDX – idea gathering app quite similar to ideascale (Best Buy is using it)
  2. OpenideaL (a drupal project, on github)
  3. IdeaTorrent (also for drupal) – possibly a dead project?

Challenge-centric platforms

Other platforms have a focus on addressing specific challenges or issues, sometimes within particular challenge-blocks or times (e.g. OpenIdeo below), and in other cases aimed at building up a knowledge base over time (e.g. the evidence hub). Yambla includes the former challenge-element as well as features from the suggestion-centric models above for more open-ended responses.

I really like OpenIdeo in this space, which isn’t a platform but a social-good design challenge site based around IDEO’s design process. They make use of IDEO’s oiengine  to structure ideation. So each challenge goes through this process (from http://oiengine.com/how):

IDEO's Design Thinking Approach

IDEO’s Design Thinking Approach

However, the system isn’t open source, and is targeted at a very particular challenge-based structure.

Open Source Challenge-Centric platforms

  • Ideation (a drupal module) works with a broad CMS (drupal) to integrate ideation features, used in US government sites

(Local) public engagement tools

A number of this great set of tools allow participants to leave comments on maps (e.g. to suggest locations for community improvements), as well as engaging in priority setting, planning processes, and more general discussion and consultation. A great list of resources! I’d love to think about how to use the map-based consultation stuff in a campus context…

Social Question and Answering Platforms

Finally, taking both the suggestion-voting and challenge elements in combination, q&a sites provide a space for a community to ask and answer questions, an – for example in stack exchange type sites – rank both questions and answers.

Happily there are a bunch of these open source:


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