Web 2.0 Harnessing the collective intelligence

Posted: March 14, 2012 in INB347 Web 2.0
Tags: , , ,

Web 2.0 Harnessing Collective Intelligence

Harnessing collective intelligence, one of the core patterns of web 2.0, is the concept of employing, branching, adapting and evolving a web 2.0 platform into a user driven product to create or evolve it into something beneficial to all who use it.  Allowing for a more user driven application is the key to a competitive advantage; harnessing the intelligence provided by the user population and using it to transform the product into something better.

Being a user driven concept, the idea is that the web 2.0 platform changes and adapts to what its population is using the tool for. Whether that is its main purpose, or a by-product of what the application was originally ideal for. Harnessing this concept allows for a more beneficial and better practice application for its end users; and rewarding them for their input of intelligence.  For example the more user’s input into the platform, the more rewarded they become; this will allow the application to evolve into something more beneficial.

A good example of a web 2.0 technology that uses the harnessing collective intelligence technique well is amazon.com. Amazon.com, launched in 1995 is a multi-million dollar e-commerce web platform which started off as an online book store, but gradually began selling other materials including DVD’s, furniture, software etc. e-commerce is the concept of buying and selling goods online.

Amazon.com is the largest e-commerce site in existence, offering customers with a wide range of buying and selling capabilities with ever-expanding growth and evolvement.  It is purely a customer based technology, its growth thriving on customer usage and participation, offering a personalized experience for each user.

Of course amazon existed before the concept of web 2.0, but has used the harnessing collective intelligence pattern for its user base to transform into a web 2.0 platform.  What’s made amazon a web 2.0 application was the ability for it to evolve into a more user-centric platform. Allowing personalized shopping for each user.  Every user is different, so Amazon collectively gathers individual user’s shopping habits and making recommendations and offers specialized to each user; and the user is then rewarded for their participation.

Harnessing collective intelligence is all about user participation and what the user can do, to help evolve the technology. Amazon makes good use of user participation which is the key driver in evolvement of a web 2.0 technology; employing both explicit and implicit participation a user will undertake. These techniques ensure a user driven platform.

A user will buy or sell and communicate with sellers explicitly, add items to their personalized ‘wish list’ or sell and also review their purchases as a form of participation. Users are rewarded with their participation, much like eBay’s seller and buyer rating.

Each user will also play an implicit role, the harnessing intelligence pattern is used where information is stored about each user, tracking what a user buys, sells or adds to their wish list. Amazon will then suggest products, retailers or sellers based on where the user was. Thus offering a personalized shopping experience for each user and rewarding them for using the application. The user is confronted with what other user’s are buying and looking at, related to what is being puchased, and also tracks the pattern of what a user is shopping for, such as watches in the screen take below.

Example of Amazon.comAmazon is designed to improve as it has become more popular; which is a good practice of web 2.0 and collective intelligence. Being a user driven platform, the more users involved and actively participating, and the more services it can provide. Patterns can be drawn from user habits and therefore the software can be tailored to meet user demand. In recent years it is seen Amazon take up other web 2.0 applications such as Software As A Service, offering cloud capabilities, as well as the ever expanding online store, now with MP3’s and the Kindle Touch electronic book.  These can all be derived from the roots of user participation.

User participation is the key to harnessing collective intelligence; without a strong foundation with user freedom, a web 2.0 application will simply fail to attract a population. Amazon has taken upon this technique discussed and provided a very user-based technology offering very personalized services to each user; rewarding and helping them for their active participation.


  1. RyanP says:

    This is a very good overview of Amazon and how they interact with the user. As was mentioned, it’s important to recognise that Amazon has been around long before web 2.0 was even a thing. It is one of the companies that, while it was evolving, listened to what people wanted, understood the importance of the data they were receiving, and turned it all into one of the foremost e-commerce sites in the world.

    It really demonstrates the sheer power of raw data, but you have to know what you’re doing with it.

  2. thomasphan7 says:

    Great post and a very good example of the harnessing collective intelligence pattern, I can see from your example the this is a great example for this pattern as we see first hand amazon utilizes their users by creating a user based service so communication and participation is easy to go by.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s