How do we re-build our patent system in light of the technology that enables the crowd-sourcing of scientific information?
A very interesting and wordy post from Beth Noveck on Peer to Patent, a pilot project that aims to examine how social networking may offer new possibilities for analysing the enormous backlog of US Patent Office claims and use the community’s aggregated knoweldege to quickly strike out patent trolls.
. . . what we are seeing the deconstruction of the notion of expertise – or at least the sociological organization of expertise – and we need to understand how this changes our institutions and might impact their legitimacy.
Whereas once expertise meant strictly a body of knowledge accumulated by a single person in a professional capacity, increasingly it also means the aggregation of discrete bits of knowledge into collective databases impelled by the new social networking tools, such as friend-of-a-friend (FOAF) social networking sites like Doppr or LinkedIn, or driven by rating and reputation techniques, such as those used by eBay, Amazon and Slashdot, and visual tools like Second Life and There.com that make social practices transparent as well as other other Web 3.0 (I think 2.0 was last year) to organize that information.
These suggest that: ordinary people, regardless of institutional affiliation or professional status, possess information that could enhance decision-making and improve governance. Participating in a social network not only aggregates the wisdom of the crowd – summing up individual parts a la Surowiecki’s jelly bean jar – but it can also structure information into manageable knowledge and help build expertise through participation over time.