Harnessing The Collective Mind

Today I read an interesting article in the New York Times about a company called Rite-Solutions which is using a home-grown stock market for ideas to catalyze bottom-up innovation across all levels of personnel in their organization. This is a way to very effectively harness and focus the collective creativity and energy in an organization around the best ideas that the organization generates.

Using virtual stock market systems to measure community sentiment is not a new concept but it is a new frontier. I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface of what this paradigm can accomplish. For lots of detailed links to resources on this topic see the wikipedia entry on prediction markets. This prediction markets portal also has collected interesting links on the topic. Here is an informative blog post about recent prediction market attempts. Here is a scathing critique of some prediction markets.

There are many interesting examples of prediction markets on the Web:

  • Google uses a similar kind of system — their own version of a prediction market — to enable staff members to collaboratively predict the likelihood that various internal projects and events will occur on-schedule.
  • Yahoo also has a prediction market called BuzzGame that enables visitors to help predict technology trends. 
  • Newsfutures Exchange is a prediction market about the news, which is powered by a commercial prediction market engine sold by a company called Newsfutures.
  • BlogShares, a fantasy stock market for Weblogs in which players invest virtual money in the blogs they think will gain the most audience share.
  • Intrade is another exchange for trading on idea futures.
  • The Iowa Political Futures Exchange is a prediction market that focuses on political change.
  • Tradesports is a prediction market around sports topics.
  • The Hollywood Stock Exchange is a prediction market around movies.
  • The Foresight Exchange is another prediction market for predicting future events.

Here are some interesting, more detailed discussions of prediction market ideas and potential features.

Another area that is related, but highly underleveraged today, are ways to enable communities to help establish whether various ideas are correct using argumentation. By enabling masses of people to provide reasons to agree or disagree with ideas, and with those reasons as well, we can automatically rate what ideas are most agreed with or disagreed with. One very interesting example of this is TruthMapping.com. Some further concepts related to this approach are discussed in this thread.