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Kasparov versus the World is a fascinating case study in the power of collective collaboration.

Most encouragingly for us, Kasparov versus the World provides convincing evidence that large groups of people acting in concert can solve creative problems well beyond the reach of any of them alone.

Michael Nielsen » Kasparov versus the World

In 1999, Gary Kasparov played the World in a chess game. It was organized by Microsoft and, in the end, co-ordinated by a young chess prodigy called Irina Krush,  the 15 year old US Women’s Chess Champion.

She didn’t start with that job, and how she acquired it is told in the link. Even more interesting, as the bit I’ve quoted shows, is the way that the community of interested players, arranged themselves and how the ‘appointment’ of a coordinator for the World resulted in a whole much stronger than its parts.

The author, Michael Nielsen, is focused on how this collaborative approach might change the way science is done.

I think that’s just scratching the surface.

We’ve seen the way collaboration has changed how software is written through the Open Source moment.  We’ve seen how it’s changed the way you write an encyclopedia through Wikipedia. We’ve seen what one good indexer in Google can do to the shape of all the information on the internet, by using our own assessments of it.

We live in the age of the Prosumer. Where the amateur, with dedication, can make himself indistinguishable from the professional. Where these amateurs can collaborate and share the best tips, tricks and ideas. Where there will be individuals who harness, coordinate and combine this material out of love for the task. We’ve seen how a patient can go in as well informed as his doctor, because he spent half an hour on Web MD. You can get course materials from the best universities in the world, from their best minds, without paying a penny.

This will eventually occur in all fields.

I believe that this will lead to an amazing knowledge revolution. A world where information is easily accessible, very cheap, and diffuses easily.

Information will become a commodity.

Now pull it together. An imaginative, smart, well informed set of people who apply themselves to their tasks with passion. Who are organized, inquisitive and creative.

The implications are revolutionary.

We live in interesting times.

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