Self-organizing groups appear to form around the eternal (that is, around things that persist across human experience, such as love, friendship, laughter, joy, fellowship, and passion) and can, therefore, themselves be very long lasting. Within them, self-organizing work groups naturally form to get specific work-of-the-moment done. Responding to the needs of the moment, those who most urgently feel the need come together, anticipate the need on behalf of the group, and then do the work that needs to get done. When that work is accomplished, the work group dissolves as quickly as it formed.
It seems quite clear that the new “collaborative economy” is a good example of how advances in Collective Intelligence can add a lot of value through mechanisms like “collective filtering” attenuating the impact of “the Paradox of Choice”.
The Basque consultant Julen Iturbe explains it very well in a blog post: As collaborative products and services eliminate scarcity of professional services and can be provided by anyone with a resource (a room at home, a seat in the car…) to spare, we face a hitherto unknown problem: “the offer can overwhelm our capacity to deal with it”, and this is when we really have to talk about getting attention.
Obviously there is no easy solution. I believe that the challenge lies midst metadata and comment/reputation management.
The problem of “attention distribution” that is created by abundance cannot be solved by shouting louder, we must improve the mechanisms that help separate the signal from the noise. But what is really interesting is that the problem of choosing a room with Airbnb in Paris is very similar to the problem of scaling as the number of members of a collective. The more people intervening in a dialogue, the greater the risk of it “overwhelming our capacity to deal with it”.
Scaling (the equivalent of abundance in the case of Airbnb) is the largest source of inefficiencies in processes of Collective Intelligence, and this is the main problem that political parties like #Podemos (a Spanish party that seeks citizen involvement) have to face. A dramatic increase in scale, as the party has become a mass phenomenon, has left the organization’s team of leaders with the dilemma of choosing one of two alternative paths:
1.- To delve further and innovate the mechanisms for participation (with its inherent risks) to reduce the “noise” of assemblies without abandoning the idea of shared leadership
2.- To abandon participative practices in favor of more vertical (hierarchal) mechanisms, to control inefficiencies and be more agile.
Some may think that there are intermediate options, more “And” less “Or”, but the truth is that in the end, say what you will, one model is chosen over the other.
Before ending I would like to add a comment about managing the renowned “paradox of choice” in this new scenario of abundance. According to this paradox the more options available, the greater the risk of making a bad choice, or none at all because complexity leads to paralysis. This means more stress because “maybe I haven’t made the best choice” (apply this to seeking for a room amongst the thousands on offer in Paris at Airbnb).