Integrating thinking tools, publishing, decentralised social networks, AI and cooperative revenue models

A Minimum Viable Ecosystem for collective intelligence

Mathew Lowry
4 min readJan 1, 2023


What are the key elements required for decentralised collective intelligence, and how do we finance their development?

This post summarises and introduces several others. Together they provide a snapshot of my current thinking into how a decentralised collective intelligence ecosystem could be bootstrapped into existence.

From reimagining …

My starting point was to explore how, a publishing platform I alpha-launched to explore these issues, could evolve. Briefly:

  • is currently a centralised platform where Hub Editors build their Hub — a personal website combining blogging (what I Think), personal porfolios (what I Do) and social bookmarking (what I Like)
  • All content is tagged, and the natural language interface makes it easy to create Collections such as “Everything I Like, Think and Do tagged #creativity and #productivity, each with its own RSS feed.

… to exploring collective intelligence

As I explored collective intelligence, however, I realised that my focus should be less on Hubs as a product, and more on the decentralised, open-source and self-sustaining ecosystem for collective intelligence within which Hubs and many other products could thrive and evolve together.

This ecosystem will be built using open source tools and integrated with a library of AI services. The AI algorithms driving those services are trained as they are used, and are monetised via a SaaS. The resulting revenue then develops the ecosystem further, guided by a data union of users.

Many individual ecosystem components already exist

Many of the individual ecosystem components already exist: readers familiar with Tools4Thought, for example, will recognise the one I describe as easily creatable by customising existing software, while the social technologies described here are already used by millions of Fediverse users and IndieWeb publishers.

So while my posts are partly about’s evolution, that’s only because it remains my best entry point. I want to evolve into an open-source “MyHub toolkit”, allowing anyone to self-host a Hub and plug it into the wider ecosystem, alongside digital gardens, substack-style newsletters, blogs and many other sorts of sites and apps.

Breaking down the above image

The figure, above, includes several key elements. Each is explored in more detail in dedicated posts (embedded below), but here’s a brief overview:

Super-Simple Tool4Thought for individual writers…

The Content Management Systems at the heart of each Hub is actually a Tool4Thought (centre of the image, blue). This could be hosted on, self-hosted using the open-source MyHub toolkit, or built using any other Tools4Thought integrated with the ecosystem.

However, the ecosystem’s success relies on mass adoption (see revenue model, below), and so needs a Tool4Thought which is incredibly easy to use — the opposite of most Tools4Thought today. Moreover, while most Tools4Thought help people notes, we need one specifically designed to help writers transform their “atomic notes” into publishable content on the Tool4Thought’s public-facing edge (the Editor’s Hub, blog, newsletter, etc). More on this Tool4Thought here:

… networked into Social Knowledge Graphs

Tools4Thought generally focus on helping individuals become more productive and creative. In this ecosystem, however, both the public sites and user-selected content in private Libraries are networked together socially using ActivityPub and other Fediverse technologies.

This creates collective intelligence: a personalised, decentralised Social Knowledge Graph for each user, expanding the knowledge available and creating collaborative possibilities (upper third of image, green). More:

AI-powered cooperative revenue to finance the ecosystem

Open-source tools built by volunteers and supported by well-wishers find it hard to compete with closed gardens’ advertising-powered critical mass. A new revenue source is required which remains under the control of the community using it (red, bottom).

It is based around AI services, provided free of charge to Editors via the Tool4Thought and trained by the Editors as they use them, and (in some cases) by visitors to the Editors’ public sites. These are monetised via SaaS, with the revenue reinvested in the ecosystem under the direction of a cooperative data union of Editors, as explored here:

Dig deeper

You’ve just finished the “executive summary” of the following posts, so keep reading:

You might also like our first pilot project: Mapping the Tools4Thought landscape using collective intelligence tools.

The above posts, finally, are “permanent versions” of their living counterparts on the Thinking Tools Map site, to which you can contribute and comment. See this post’s current version.

Follow and get in touch: