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Crowdsourcing a collective intelligence manifesto

Logos for Nesta and the Words in Freedom Project at Madeira ITI

This manifesto toolkit was created by the Centre for Collective Intelligence Design at Nesta in collaboration with the Words in Freedom Project at Madeira ITI, based on and inspired by their MANIFESTO! The Game.

Why a manifesto?

So much has changed in the world in recent years - months, days even. As researchers and practitioners we need to have a frank conversation about who we are, what we stand for, how we want to change, and where we want to go next. Writing manifestos won’t solve everything, but it can be a great way to get this conversation started.

Today we are all fluent in the language of manifestos. We throw out statements to an unseen and limitless public. We aim to provoke reactions that will be rewarded with likes and retweets. We court engagement through emotional appeals and striking images.

Like advertisements, manifestos usually aim for extreme impact. In terms of style, manifestos tend to be rhetorically exciting, visual, concise, and dramatic. Manifestos provide us with a mask that lets us tell the truth.

These days no grassroots movement, collective or startup is complete without a declaration of principles. From Extinction Rebellion to Black Lives Matter, they’re using manifestos to announce themselves to the world and define what they are all about and what they stand for. Manifestos introduce new ways of thinking, they make visible, they bring urgent causes to light - and they help us to define those core principles that unite us.

Ten principles for collective intelligence

For Nesta’s annual Collective Intelligence Conference 2019, we developed a manifesto toolkit to help collective intelligence researchers and practitioners articulate ideas for change, define a set of commonly held principles, and create a sense of community. We gathered together in two workshops to come up with those principles, using one very tried and true collective intelligence method - crowdsourcing. As we introduced participants to the manifesto toolkit, the aim was to generate meaningful discussion, plant the seeds for future debate, and strike a bold new tone for harnessing the power of collective intelligence.

Our efforts to include the wider collective intelligence community didn’t end there. We added the 35 crowdsourced principles to the polling platform Sli.do, opened voting to the public, and asked people to choose the principles that struck them as most important for the field of collective intelligence. After a week of voting, the crowd had chosen the following as their top ten principles:

  1. Ask yourself, how can you prevent bias from being replicated? Collective intelligence needs collective diversity.
  2. Collective intelligence should serve an equitable distribution of power.
  3. Let's use collective intelligence to build empowerment, ownership, and agency.
  4. Seek the intelligence of the many; in all its diversity and forms.
  5. Imagine if everyone could use, access, and benefit from collective intelligence.
  6. Enable change and ensure research has societal impact.
  7. Give the unheard a voice, and give that voice power.
  8. We believe in sharing tools and thinking.
  9. Re-imagine and build new tools - based on the experiences of the many, not the few.
  10. AI currently works in the interest of capital - let's use collective intelligence to drive social change.

It’s great to see that the community values diversity, and considers collective intelligence as a means to empower and build agency, give a voice to the unheard, and to drive social change. But we’re not yet done. We want you to continue the debate, and help us understand what the collective intelligence community across the world values and considers important. How? Keep reading further!

Download the toolkit

We hope that many of you will use our collective intelligence manifesto toolkit to express your own principles, spark inspiring conversations about the potential of collective intelligence, and contribute to the broader vision of the collective intelligence community.

Download and print the instructions, the manifesto board, the worksheets, and the manifesto cards and start the conversation in your school, in your organisation, with your employees, your members, your clients, or any other group you’re working with.

Once you have created your collective intelligence principles, add them to the existing collection of principles generated by the collective intelligence community around the world, and vote for as long as you like on your preferred principles.

At the next collective intelligence conference at Nesta, we will present a truly crowdsourced collective intelligence manifesto!


The toolkit files are in PDF format: