The wisdom of crowds is something very very interesting. With the WEB 1.0 evolving to WEB2.0 it has became more realistic. It says that a random group of people, a crowd, can give more accurate results than individual experts. The intellectuel knowledge of the people in the crowd has to be very different. Diversity in opinion is needed to make the wisdom of crowds work.
When I started thinking about wisdom of crowds a few months ago it also seemed very surrealistic to me, but it has already proven its use:
- A lot of companies use it to predict, how many times a product will be sold. They put a crowd together of very different people and let them all guess a number of how many products will be sold. At the end of the day they take the average of the number everyone said, and that will be the wisdom of the crowd. In a lot of cases it has been proven that the wisdom of crowds gives a valuable number.
- Google pagerank algorithm: One of the important factors that ranks a webpage is how many incoming links the webpage has. So the algorithm completely relies on the crowd, if a lot of people link that webpage with that keyword, it should be a relevant and useful webpage. It has already been proven that this method worked.
- Wikipedia: This online encyclope completely relies on its crowd, its member to check, double check, information. Users are very critical towards each other, which gives us quit good results.
- Syndication: I’m a huge believer that syndicated content can bring us better information. Because you “the end-user” can remix the different opinions of a crowd and put them next to each other
There are however a few requirements, but as you’ll see, a lot of those requirements can be complied in a web 2.0 environment:
Diversity, or large variation in ideas, is crucial to being able to extract wisdom from the crowd. We need liberal, conservative, crazy, hair-brained, logical, rational, irrational, and all ideas in between. The reason why we need such diversity is probability. The more diversity in the ideas that we include, the higher the probability that one of those ideas is the *right* one. Because sometimes it just happens to be that one hair-brained idea that leads us down the right path. (source: bokardo.com)
In addition to a diversity of ideas from which to choose, we need the quality of not imitating the first idea that comes along (even if it is diverse). Instead, we need to hold to our own ideas, if possible, to come up with our own conclusions. Thats not to say that we wont agree with other people, but each of us has our own set of knowledge, and holding to that set of knowledge will keep our thought independent. Independence is about how we react to ideas as they are presented to us. (source: bokardo.com)
Most of us tend to generalize ideas so as to make them applicable to other situations. This, however, might not be the best way to tackle problems in order to extract the wisdom of crowds. According to Surowieki, a better way might be to attack problems individually, in a decentralized manner, so that those people closest to the problem are the ones who solve it, not somebody from on high. Decentralization is crucial to tacit knowledge, that sort of knowledge that is hard to communicate to others, and is often vital to solving the problem at hand. (source: bokardo.com)
An aggregator that collects syndicated content from a diversity of people about a certain theme. This aggregator in combination with a community popular algorithm, that filters out the bad quality content, should bring us the wisdom of crowds about a certain theme at a certain moment in time. Why ?
–> We get different views and ideas about the theme, because of the diversity in the group of people. Always a positive and negative aspect, always people pro and contra.
–> The popular algorithm should bring forward the best, most popular, most controversial content.
–> You stay an independent content provider. The platform aggregates the content, you keep writing on your personal blog or keep posting bookmarks to your personal del.icio.us account. The platform doesn’t want to take that individual and independent power away. It is necessairy that the aggregated content stays independent.
A community web aggregator that brings forward the wisdom of crowds about a certain theme at a certain moment in time. What do you think? Will you use it?