Kindle Highlights and Collective Intelligence

As an avid reader of books, blogs, and articles, I’m always looking for ways to capture the key nuggets of knowledge to organize, apply, and share in the future.  I currently use Google Docs to capture my notes from these various sources, but it has been a challenge to keep my research organized.  My Kindle is loaded with business, technology, and innovation books, with many highlights throughout.  Kindle has a great feature of sharing the most popular highlights from all Kindle readers, a crowdsourced collection of the most valued points from the book.  As Amazon publishes the popular highlights of all their Kindle books on each product page, that has truly opened up a powerful knowledge source.  They even publish the most highlighted passages or books of all time.

People can go to Amazon and pull up a book, say MacroWikinomics by Don Tapscott and read the 10 most popular highlights.  They can then click on many of the related books like Innovator’s DNA by Clayton Christensen and read the 10 top highlights there. You can spend hours learning the most valuable points of countless interrelated books.  As there are dozens of books on my Amazon Wish list to eventually get to, reading the highlights provides a succinct digest of all the books in the time it takes to read a chapter or two.

Ideally pulling the top highlights and the network relationships of the books to a separate site would save you from scrolling through the Amazon pages and better present the knowledge for readers.  As Amazon built these features to get users to their site and buy more books, they would oppose that approach.

As you learn new nuggets of knowledge, how do you capture them so they’re not forgotten tomorrow or a month from now? How do you organize your knowledge repository to sort, expand, and retrieve that knowledge as an external hard drive to your brain? How do you share and integrate your knowledge with others in your team, company, or enterprise?

Wikipedia is a fantastic tool to capture and share human intelligence.  Many companies and enterprises have leveraged related tools for their knowledge platforms.  Some of these tools are still difficult for the average user to properly create or edit a Wikipedia like page.  The cultural resistance to this new approach is also limiting our full potential.

If every day people took the time to add the knowledge they gained to a central online repository, it would instantly become a company’s most valuable resource.  The platform needs to be able to present the most popular highlights for others so they don’t have to read through 50 page reports or long winded emails.  Much like the Borg in Star Trek is organized as an interconnected collective, adopting this strategy enables every individual to be vastly more effective in their daily work and the organization as a whole to gain a huge competitive advantage.

MIT’s Center for Collective Intelligence poses the research question:  How can people and computers be connected so that—collectively—they act more intelligently than any individuals, groups, or computers have ever done before?