Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Wednesday, January 10, 2007day link 

 The Dumbness of Crowds
picture Very nice article at Passionate about when crowds become smart and when they become dumb.
"Collective intelligence" is a pile of people writing Amazon book reviews.

"Dumbness of Crowds" is a pile of people collaborating on a wiki to collectively author a book...

"Collective Intelligence" is all the photos on Flickr, taken by individuals on their own, and the new ideas created from that pool of photos (and the API).

"Dumbness of Crowds" is expecting a group of people to create and edit a photo together.

"Collective Intelligence" is about getting input and ideas from many different people and perspectives.

"Dumbness of Crowds" is blindly averaging the input of many different people, and expecting a breakthrough.
(It's not always the averaging that's the problem it's the blindly part)

"Collective Intelligence" is about the community on Threadless, voting and discussing t-shirts designed by individuals.

"Dumbness of Crowds" would be expecting the Threadless community to actually design the t-shirts together as a group.

Art isn't made by committee.

Great design isn't made by consensus.

True wisdom isn't captured from a crowd.
And the main point here:
It's the sharp edges, gaps, and differences in individual knowledge that make the wisdom of crowds work, yet the trendy (and misinterpreted) vision of Web 2.0 is just the opposite--get us all collaborating and communicating and conversing all together as one big happy collaborating, communicating, conversing thing until our individual differences become superficial.
I agree. A crowd can become smart mainly because it is a collection of individuals, who're different, who have different knowledge, different resources, different viewpoints, and somehow a synergy emerges in what they do. Their different pieces complement each other, and something bigger becomes possible. It isn't that there's any great wisdom in averaging what a lot of people think. A vote by majority is pretty dumb. Lots of people applying their unique skills to working together - that can be really big.
[ | 2007-01-10 20:15 | 4 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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