Recently found this swarmforce.com on a job board and it got my wheels turning....
What I have gathered about SwarmForce so far from the site and blog:
1) SwarmForce differentiates itself from traditional content portals by using a 'swarm' algorithm versus the usual user recommendation algorithm.
2) SwarmForce is also a content provider like Wikipedia, only the swarm algorithm is the editor and not an arbitrary person. Currently this is manifested as 'Debates' but a full fledged collaboration platform is planned.
I love the idea of Swarm Intelligence. Just this weekend I was contemplating how an ant determines what colony it is a part of. (I am geek, hear me roar.) But the big question is, how can Swarm Force differentiate itself from other content portals to the common person?
A quick note on debates:
The debates feature is interesting, but the few I've looked at seem very long winded and it takes a bit of reading to dig up the hard nuggets of information. Striking a balance between thoroughness and usability is always a hard problem. A site that I think has a quick and simple debate feature is http://wikinvest.com (Bear vs Bull reasons to buy/sell a stock). A challenge for the debate feature will be how to condense the 'good' points instead of false arguments such as Straw Man etc (wonder if NLP can do this....)
A note on the front page:
Why am I being shown big Hulu style graphics of the big debates? It makes sense on an entertainment portal because the same slide show is main the player so the transition to the new page is a fluid experience, but here it is kind of confusing. One alternative would be to cycle through some swarms and list out the hot debates and articles.
I think for SwarmForce to really click with some of the early adopters it needs a clear case for how a 'swarm algorithm' can filter noise and another case for how it does better than traditional user recommendation sites.
Between Digg-a-likes and Wiki-clones collaboration/user content platforms are a fairly saturated market (User generated-content was one of the defining aspects of 'Web 2.0' no?). It will require a serious disruptive technology to break into, the proof is in the pudding. (What does that actually mean?)
There is plenty of opportunity here though. How do you determine membership in a swarm seems like a big problem in of itself. It also hits up on one of my other favorite topics, what secrets will the social graph reveal?
P.S. Every employee of SwarmForce should be given an Ant Colony upon being hired full time.