Just dropping off a bundle of my thoughts about inquiries:

  • When people gather, they come up with questions.
  • Some questions have an obvious conclusion: If someone asks, “Could it be possible that X is fundamental to solving Y?”, … then you can be pretty sure that the convener thinks that the answer is YES, and is using the convening to persuade others that the answer is Yes as well. This can be appropriate or inappropriate, depending on the venue. (see: SelectivelyOpenMinded)
  • Some questions earnestly arise in a discussion, and carry the inquiry in new, unexpected directions.
  • Some questions earnestly arise in a discussion, and retread old territory. Perhaps it should be mapped. (see also: RobertHorn?’s mess maps.)
  • If you hold a question in mind and TendYourProject regularly, you’ll see vastly more deeply into it than if you just ask it for a couple days, and then move on to something else.
  • Crowds can discover expertise in their midst.
  • People can sometime become experts.
  • Mixes of experts and non-experts can make major discoveries if they sustain a deep inquiry over a long period of time.
  • Inquiries can be supported by non-experts with administrative tasks: Minutes, mapping dialog, reality checks, …
  • When something is discovered, it should probably be summarized and propagated.
  • It’s probably better to perform an inquiry in a semi-structured matter.
  • It’s probably better to assign authorities or other OrganizingPrinciple?s when conducting an inquiry. Organizing principles for summarizing the work, organizing principles for maintaining the inquiry, and so on.
  • People who participate in an organized inquiry should probably have a fair idea of what the organizing principles are, and what they’re agreeing to, in the inquiry, and stick with them. People should know what they’re getting into, and keep their commitments.

Looking back, what are the questions my mind is answering?

  • How should inquiries work?
    • How can experts and non-experts work together on an inquiry?
    • How can inquiries protect against subversion?

See Also


Worth looking at Yahoo! Answers as an environment alternative to wiki that shows some similar traits. Yahoo! Answers operates at a potentially less, um, socially complex level, thereby making obvious the basic pros and cons of collective inquiry.

Oh; I’m thinking about collaborative inquiry, rather than collective inquiry. (CwordProblem)

Yahoo! Answers is about collective inquiry, or perhaps rather: extremely short term collaborative inquiry.

I’m mainly thinking about collaborative inquiry over a long range of time, with a lot of intentional effort on the part of participants dedicated to seeing it through.

BTW: CwordProblem- that’s a fantastic page; I like it because it clarifies discourse.

That CwordProblem page was planted as a seed to await its use for some future discussion - and it was used “against” me! Oh, the irony. :-) I thought of Yahoo! Answers because of your second bullet point, which you see a lot of there. Some examples:

  • Who thinks Danny’s bakery in the South End of Boston, is like, the best?
  • Isn’t Jay-Z cute?
  • What are the benefits of using my no-name software over the industry giant? (Feel free to download your free trial version here!)

Another thing this topic makes me think of is the local knowledge concept from Wisdom of Crowds, similar to Linus’ Law. It’s the idea that in collective environments, if everyone has a little relevant local knowledge and it is aggregated correctly, then no one needs to be the expert to address difficult problems (or in this case, difficult inquiries). Hmmm, need to work this in as a page at CPSWiki.

Just wanted to drop a link here about http://www.communitywiki.org/odd/CollectiveProblemSolving/2007-02-23 ideas related to this page.

Define external redirect: OrganizingPrinciple RobertHorn TendYourProjects