Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Dumbness of Crowds?

Here is an excellent piece from by Jaron Lanier.

Jaron argues that we should not get carried away by too facile an interpretation of the wisdom of crowds idea. He correctly points out that well functioning systems require a balance of bottoms-up and top-down approaches, along with both individual and collective action. Markets (collective action) require some degree of (top-down) government regulation and (individual) entrepreneurs.

"Every authentic example of collective intelligence that I am aware of also shows that collective was guided or inspired by well-meaning individuals."

Note 1: This piece is fairly long, and the first part is focused mostly on Wikipedia, but the most interesting thoughts are in the second part, so hang in there.

Note 2: See related thoughts from me here.

Note 3: is a superb site that catalyzes conversations among leading physicists, artists, sociolgists, anthropologies, and others.