I was reading an article about real time search today and it made me think more broadly about the idea of ‘real time feedback’. The idea that I can search for something now and not only find out what people are saying about it more or less right now, but also what collective knowledge exists about it, as well as the fact that potentially I could be in direct contact with people who knew about it right now as well. The potential power and possibilities of that collective real time feedback is staggering. Add to this the power of the hashtag and you have access to an incredibly simple but powerful mechanism for a continuously updating real time search loop.

BestBuy’s Twelpforce is an example of this: customers tapping into the collective knowledge of a company. Yammer is another example, a mechanism that enables its employees to not only tap into its own collective knowledge banks, but at the same time, be that knowledge bank.

Twelpforce and Yammer give us an insight into what that collective power might look like when harnessed. But rather than simply drawing on the collective knowledge base of one company and it’s employees, what if we were able (and willing) to pull together the collective knowledge of many companies (in essence, the collective knowledge of people)? Knowledge and knowledge sharing for the good of all. We get to ask questions of the ‘oracle’ and in return all we have to do for a few minutes a day is to open up our personal knowledge banks and become part of the ‘oracle’.

Companies could potentially draw on certain aspects of the collective knowledge base of their customers to help each other; who better to help than someone who has been through it before. We are gradually moving towards this paradigm of seemingly unstructured networks built on mutual trust where information and help are traded daily. The challenge for all of us is how to effectively harness this real time collective knowledge base without trying to control it or own it.

AudioBoo: The power of the real time feedback loop