As every week, Gerry McGovern provides food for thought, this time on the wisdom of crowds.
In Web facilitates wisdom of crowds he says:
The Web is not about crowd-think, but rather about amalgamating and sifting the results of many people’s independent opinions on particular subjects. This approach is the essence of Google’s success-the more people who vote for (link to) a website, the higher it ranks in Google.
I see this explanation almost like water sloshing about in a breached boat, just because a few people push the balance of the argument off centre, it doesn’t mean the resulting surge takes it to the correct tipping point.
Every week, I find myself seaching for some web technique or another. Google regularly takes me to pages that have been superceded, but from which the balance hasn’t been restored.
In elections where results are declared before the polls close, many people vote for the person they believe is going to win. How many Digg users only digg the stories they find within Digg?
That’s not to say I’m pro-experts in this debate. An expert has to create a niche with a differentiatable product which will sell. Their message can be easier to corrupt, while a crowd’s can merely be diverted.
Experts can be smart, crowds can be smart, experts can be dumb, crowds can be dumb. Gerry’s closing comment is smarter than I can manage:
Something extraordinary and quite revolutionary is happening on the Web. Millions of minds are coming together to create a vast global brain and memory bank. We will spend the next fifty years pondering the implications of all this.
Ideas will compete, crowds will vote and vote again. We may become wiser, but will we attain wisdom?