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The Search for Collective Intelligence

January 23, 2006

NASA, in partnership with the University of California – Berkley, is using the power of the Internet to search for little green men. Well, not exactly.

The Stardust Project is recruiting volunteers to scan through millions of images of comet and stardust collected from the Stardust spacecraft. Potential volunteers will be screened and trained to analyze the images, which they expect to take over 30,000 volunteer hours to analyze.

This project is one of the first organized efforts to use collective intelligence to help analyze a large quantity of information. Collective intelligence harnesses the diverse experience and knowledge of a large group of people to connect/analyze information.

One of the best-known examples of collective intelligence is how a number of conservative blogs uncovered false information presented by Dan Rather on a story about George Bush’s National Guard duty.

The Stardust Project should become a good case study of how the Internet not only connects people together, but information as well. The Internet may not provide a solution to understaffing in your organization; it does provide a great way to engage supporters in a more meaningful way and gain insight that was not initially clear.

Are there ways that your organization could use the collective intelligence of your members to help connect/analyze information? Some groups used this tactic during Chief Justice Roberts’ nomination process. They asked supporters with legal experience to help analyze and flag statements made and opinions drafted by Chief Justice Roberts.

Read more about the Stardust Project here:


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