The Smithsonian's Got Game

Since the advent of the Internet, however, new forms of collective intelligence have emerged. Malone pointed to Wikipedia as an example of the "new Internet-enabled, decentralized collective intelligence."

According to Malone, this decentralization is both geographic, in that the players are not always physically together, and organizational, in that control is dispersed among multiple players.

Collective intelligence has traditionally been more hierarchical, but Wikipedia and now ARGs allow peers to interact on the same digital plane with little centralized control.

In ARGs, individuals discover and unfold pieces of the puzzle, but only when the community contributes to a group analysis does the game develop. And as the game continues, the players begin to set the course based on both individual and collective knowledge and curiosity.

ARGs give control to both puppet masters and players as both parties sign on for the wild, virtual ride together. And now for the first time, a museum will be caught in the fray.

"This is a new way for gamers to interact with the museum's collections," said Maccabbee.

"To a certain extent, I think museums worry that they are losing these younger generations, and so are particularly attuned to penetrating this generation," he added.

ARGs however, are not in danger of losing their audience, and Maccabee sees ARGs as a great tool for museums and libraries to hook the cyber-centric generation.

"This is where entertainment is going," said Maccabee, "and we are part of the movement."

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