Google's Open Source Team Hosts Collective Intelligence Foo Camp

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

When I asked Hal Varian, Google's Chief Economist and UC Berkeley professor for his elevator definition of "collective intelligence", he replied, "People and computers collaborating." In conjunction with our colleagues at O'Reilly Media, this provocatively broad expanse of ideas brought together nearly 100 industry and research professionals for 2 days of wild and woolly conversation last week at the Googleplex in Mountain View. This was the kind of event where the visual aids used in sessions ranged from white-boards full of equations that describe adaptive market analysis technology to video clips showing the collective behavior of ant colonies.

At several points the participants were too busy talking to each other to go to - or end - sessions, which is the mark of a hugely successful conference in my book. Some of my personal favorite sessions were "Leveraging the Picky - getting users to clean data" lead by Coda Hale and Brian Donovan, "Legality of Prediction Markets" lead by Tom Bell, "Design Space for CI - (yin-yang, point-counterpoint)" lead by Hal Varian, and "Summing Collective Ignorance: Finding experts and avoiding the madness of crowds " lead by Greg Linds.

In short, lots of dynamic connections forged, interesting thoughts shared, and some laughs besides. You can learn more about the conference content at O'Reilly Radar.