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February 25, 2006 » 3:38 am

Dumbells and Collective Intelligence

I’ve been a member of 24 Hour Fitness ever since I moved out here, mostly frequenting their Mountain View location. Now that I’m in San Francisco, I go to the location on Ocean Avenue (when I’m not sitting on my lazy butt, that is). Here’s the amazing thing about that location. It’s about three times as big as the Mountain View location, with about three times the number of dumbells. And yet, it is impossible to find the weights you’re looking for there. They’re always scattered all over the place, and no one ever racks them where they’re supposed to go.    (K9J)

Tony Christopher once told me a story about this timeshare cabin he and his family rent. Someone (the owners I think) had the bright idea of actually labelling the drawers so that all of the inhabitants know exactly where to find the silverware and where to return it when they’re done. Brilliant, right? And it works for Tony and his timesharing cohorts.    (K9K)

All gyms already have this for their free weights. And most gyms I’ve been to are decent at keeping their free weights in order, although this is partially because they have some staffer reorganize them on a regular basis. Well, this apparently doesn’t happen enough in San Francisco, and for whatever reason, those who frequent that gym aren’t smart enough to put things back where they belong. And all of us suffer as a result.    (K9L)

This is as good of a metric for measuring a group’s Collective Intelligence as any: How well does a group keep its tools or its artifacts in order? There are two approaches to rating high on this metric: imposing discipline on a group from above, or hoping that your group is smart enough to figure it out on its own. When the latter happens, you’ve got self-organization, and it’s much more compelling than the top-down alternative. This, of course, is what makes Wikis so interesting.    (K9M)

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