University of Minho (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN13 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 155-160
ISBN: 978-84-616-3822-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 5th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 1-3 July, 2013
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Collective intelligence has been following the cultural development of humanity since its first demonstrations in tribal societies, in context of collective coordination in hunting situations, to the contemporary complex societies, in the creation of knowledge and access a new frontier – the cyberspace. To access the vast library stored in the servers’ global network, search engines have emerged. The artificial intelligence of these tools was tested according to the obtained answers by surfers on the relevance and personalization. By far, Google stands out among the competition. Its secret, is quite simple: collective intelligence. In this exploratory study we identify the processes of collective cooperation that are used in problems resolution, by teens, with Google’ s search engine as the tool to access the information. The results point to a very basic pattern of use of the engine and a need for teaching and learning research techniques and information management.
In the paper we justify the study, present the detailed methodology and discuss the results.
Collective intelligence or (Surowiecki, 2005, p. 19), "wisdom of crowds", is a "distributed intelligence that is all around, constantly enhanced, coordinated in real time, resulting in an effective mobilization of skills" (Levy, 1994, p. 28), being "the basis and purpose of the collective intelligence ... the recognition and enrichment of people". However, Carr (2007) argues that the production with peers is seen more as a means of improving something old, already invented, it is more an optimization model than an invention model. He concludes that only a relatively small group formally organized of gifted professionals might produce breakthroughs.
Google is the undisputed leader in search engines because he knows the collective considerations of the people surfing the Net.
Our question was: How do teens use the search engine Google to access relevant information on the Internet? The objectives were: to identify the procedures these students use to seek information on the Internet using Google; to identify forms of coordination, to perform a common task. The participants were 8th grade students from a Middle School class, in an degraded urban area in Portugal.
We found a pattern: the predominant use of two or three words organized into phrases and complete sentences, and a standard “reading in F”. The task was performed collaboratively, despite not productive. These students revealed facility in manipulating digital devices, ability to read graphics and text, comfort with random information but they also accused immaturity in the use of digital tools. Who benefits, after all, from the internet?

Some references:
Battelle, J. (2005). The Search. Cruz Quebrada: Casa das Letras.
Carr, N. (2010). The Shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, inc.
Crispen, P. (Setembro de 2004). Introduction to Internet Searching. Retrieved April 1 2010, from
Nielsen, J. (17 de Abril de 2006). F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content. Retrieved September 2010, from
Surowiecki, J. (2005). A Sabedoria das Multidões. (A. Editores, Ed.) Porto: Lua de Papel.
Veen, W. (2009). Homo Zappiens, educando na era digital. Porto Alegre: Artmed.
Search engines, google search, collaborative search, collective intelligence, digital natives.