Striving for collective intelligence 

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By Jade

Were you profoundly focused on the last political remark you read on social media? If so, were you aware that it affected you? In regards to the presidential elections, social media currently has great power. The power of social media is driven by collective intelligence. Collective intelligence in business can enhance a company’s image, increase their profit, or make consumers feel important. Collective intelligence is what brings together individuals to reach a specific objective. This term is also used to understand politics in social media. An informative study suggests that collective intelligence is directly impacted by the following. Participation of groups, higher participation by woman, social sensitivity, and average intelligence of group members. Ultimately we should be striving for further use of collective intelligence in social media.

Collective intelligence is used within communities of social media to thrive on certain positions. When it comes to politics, it is used by presidential campaign’s to enhance or devalue a candidate’s persona; further increasing one’s chance of being elected. The issue with this is a lack of mindful participation on social media. “Mindful participation” or mindfulness is a term which is a term of Howard Rheingold. It explains how people must use their attention to maximum capacity in their social media participation. Every bit of information a user engages with on social media is contributed to a community’s collective intelligence.

Whether or not they know it, their participation in social media plays a role in politics. There are not enough people currently striving for collective intelligence. Mindfulness must be used to be aware of political collective intelligence. We can be certain that candidates in this year’s election take advantage of social media. Through platforms like Twitter, or Facebook presidential administrations often use collective intelligence. They use it by projecting different forms of campaigns to these platforms. Many social media users will acknowledge the campaigns. Simultaneously, those who do not acknowledge the campaigns are affected too. In terms of politics, social media users certainly participate both actively and passively. However, most users don’t participate mindfully. With that being said, we should strive for further use of collective intelligence in social media.

Howard Rheingold in 2012, introduced his book Net Smart which features mindful participation as a subject. Rheingold’s concept of mindful participation is based on metacognition in digital culture. Metacognition in digital culture implies that people think about the way they think when they participate. People always have a choice in whether or not they will consciously choose to think mindfully. Many people were self-taught to use social media on autopilot; which Rheingold stated, is the worst thing to do. The importance in mindfully participating is demonstrating the action to others who care about what you have to say. Once another person cares about what you have to say, they are already participating by giving the empowerment to the receiver. Ultimately, this participation is dependent on those who choose to strive for collective intelligence. Furthermore, it is their responsibility to carry on the position they want to exemplify.

Here is a political instance which mindful participation was able to serve a one billion dollar victory in 2012. “We analyzed very early that the problem in Democratic politics was you had databases all over the place,” said one of President Obama’s officials. Obama had an exceptional fundraising victory of one billion dollars because of collective intelligence. As his campaigns were projected on social media, his database team tracked his way to success. Consumer data about voters helped with the triumph. Based on the participation of social media users, their position was the underlying reason for his success. Every action on their part led to greater collective intelligence towards Obama’s success. It is bittersweet that a new president will be elected in less than six months.

Let’s discuss Donald Trump in this scope. Out of all presidential candidates, his name is seen the most on social media. Twitter is a platform which allows users to re-post any content they desire. Therefore, the community of users in anyone’s circle sees their reposts. By going to their site, any individual can recall the amount of times Donald Trump’s name was re-tweeted. On top of that, companies such as CNN, broadcasts Trump’s Twitter. Through recent articles, we can see he uses Twitter as a convenient way devalue other candidates. Hence, social media users participate in collective intelligence just by viewing that content.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign also projects on twitter. Twitter posts reflect certain strengths. As her strengths were reflected, social media users were immediately able to engage with that content. Their engagement is further attributed to a certain collective intelligence. In turn, they have great power as users in digital culture. They are all part of a collective intelligence which empowers them to have opinions of their own. Relatively the deadly mass attack in Florida brought upon hundreds of discussions on gun control. Subsequently, campaigns formed live streams for users to discuss that issue specifically. Any social media user was able to participate in the discussions if they desired. This empowered a larger community of people to embrace their collective intelligence. Ultimately, their participation in social media can apply to the whole generation.

In contrast, politics on social media has been proven to do more harm than good. Users can contribute their mindful participation, yet unethical campaigns can instill negative beliefs. For example, the Washington post discussed an unethical campaign on President Obama in 2008. The photos depicted him with very dark, photo-shopped skin. “Those images would have appealed to some viewers’ racial biases” said the writer. Based on ethics, users engaging with this genre of content can do harm. Thus, mindful participation is useful, because the user understands the campaign’s biased position. With an understanding of the unethical position; users are able to disregard or acknowledge it. Based on their preferred collective intelligence, they create a place for others.

Being that elections are coming quickly, every action on social media counts. People must become empowered by mindful participation by focusing a little more. There should be a shift in the way users participate in digital communities. We are in a contemporary age which depends on our participation. This era of technology is drastically going to improve with time. If people don’t start using more mindful participation, they will no longer have a say. Our next president will be determined soon, so it’s crucial that users stay aware of every political remark on social media. Now more than ever, users should strive for further use of collective intelligence in social media.

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