Collective Intelligence in Action

Don’t you hate it when you spend months (or years) working on a pet project / book / mad take over the world idea, then somebody comes out with something even better?

Yep, it’s just happened to me. Years working on the idea of the ‘Wisdom of Crowds’ (even prior to web 2.0 in the shape of Red-Piranha). Month’s working on a Masters Dissertation on applying Web 2 techniques to the Finance industry (pdf link). And somebody comes out and does it even better.

Not just better. But much much better.  The sort of better as in ‘If I had this earlier, I’d have just copied it and changed the words around a bit’. The book is available from Manning as ‘Collective Intelligence in Action‘. A free, first chapter (Understanding Collective Intelligence) is available here (pdf).

Collective Intelligence in Action

So what’s it about? We’ve all heard about the Wisdom of Crowds idea. But what if you need to actually implement it on your website? This book shows you how to (using both concepts and practical code, as well as the theory behind all of it that I was missing). It includes

  • Intelligent, learning search, using Lucene.
  • Extracting data from blogs using web-crawling.
  • Executing Real time feedback on facebook-like sites.
  • Scalable data-mining techniques to manage the torrent of information
  • Making personalised recommendations based on all of the information.

Disclaimer:Manning provided me with a free review copy of the book – but no strings attached. And , maybe if I’m nice enough to the Author (Satnam), I can persuade him to talk about making millions using JBoss Drools and Complex Event processing in the book.


  1. Dan,

    Thanks to the pointer to the O’Reilly book. It’s ironic (considering that I also blog for them) that I’d never heard about it 🙂

    I haven’t read the O’Reilly book so the following is not a fair comparison: I tend towards the Manning book as the examples there are in Java. Yes, I know Python is an easy language to pick up, but I don’t have to bother translating them in my head!

    I’d recommend any reader to head over to your blogpost (and onwards to the Watchmaker project that you talk about).


  2. Greetings:

    Crowds – hate them. I don’t like long lines, congested traffic, crowds in stores and, especially, “collaborative” planning with:

    Beginners who know nothing and, sometimes, know that they know nothing but usually want to comment just to keep their job.

    Journeymen / Intermediate Programmers who feel that they HAVE to comment and slow things down just so that they show the world (well, this meeting) their own brilliance – and they will give you the most arguments.

    Business Managers: Another class of Journeymen who just can’t leave well enough alone.

    Other than that, I don’t mind meeting with people who actually know what they are doing and have done something similar before. Unfortunately, the Chief DBA wants the whole thing to be data-centric and use SQL statements for all of the business logic. The Business Manager wants to be sure that it doesn’t cost anything. The Master Web Wennie wants to have everything done with some weird scripting language that he or she can’t live without and can not see any reason for putting all of the logic into script files rather than a decent BRMS.

    Crowds… No thanks. I’ll stay in my cave and remain a hermit and write my own stuff with limited collaboration. 🙂


  3. jco,

    Clients. Things would be a lot easier without them. Apart from the problem of getting paid 🙂

    I’ve felt that way in the past, usually just before I get proved wrong by one of them!


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