A new paper “How intermittent breaks in interaction improve collective intelligence,” by Ethan BernsteinJesse Shore, and David Lazer has recently been published in PNASThe paper examines the results of intermittent isolation on collective problem-solving: 

“Many human endeavors—from teams and organizations to crowds and democracies—rely on solving problems collectively. Prior research has shown that when people interact and influence each other while solving complex problems, the average problem-solving performance of the group increases, but the best solution of the group actually decreases in quality. We find that when such influence is intermittent it improves the average while maintaining a high maximum performance. We also show that storing solutions for quick recall is similar to constant social influence. Instead of supporting more transparency, the results imply that technologies and organizations should be redesigned to intermittently isolate people from each other’s work for best collective performance in solving complex problems.”

The paper has been covered widely, in publications that include Forbes, the Boston Globe, Time Magazineand the Economist

Lazer’s recent research also includes a new book Politics with the People: Building a Directly Representative Democracyco-authored with Michael A. Neblo and Kevin M. Esterling.