Web facilitates wisdom of crowds: Gerry McGovern

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 Google regularly takes me to pages that have been superceded, but from which the balance hasn’t been restored.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?

iPhone: Where are the games?

I know everyone’s talking about the iPhone and, hey, I’m no exception.

This is the first product in a long time that has drawn real attention from technology fans across the spectrum (i.e. dedicated PC nuts), and it’s been interesting to see a lot of the initial excitement fade as the reality of Apple’s business decisions becomes apparent.

My question, which I only ask as I haven’t seen elsewhere, is where are the games?

If we’re to believe the hype, Multitouch is the most important user interface development advance in a decade. It’s certainly something I’ve been dreaming of for a while, and maybe it’s the most intuitive interface ever.

I doubt it. I’ve spent too long explaining shortcuts like shift-clicking to select multiple items, double-tap to drag on a trackpad, even CTRL-X,C&V for clipboard actions. What the new interface needs is a selection of games that expose users to the new methods and turn them into instinctive actions.

Of course with light sensors, accelerometers and a touch screen, we’re talking a nifty little handheld gaming console.

It’s unfortunate Apple don’t want to open up the iPhone to developers. Just look at it, the iPhone is the new holy grail for hackers.

Perhaps someone will even make it smart enough to detect when someone’s using it while walking down a busy street, and then scream in their ear “PAY ATTENTION TO THE ROAD YOU *********!”

Ten things I want from my phone

Tim O’Reilly starts an interesting, if tech-heavy, discussion in Ten Things I Want From My Phone.

In January I’ll be looking for my eighth phone in 11 years, in which time I’ve only owned three PCs (discounting upgrades) and have become a little sick of the rigmarole of installations and buying extra kit.

  1. Universal connectors and power supplies
  2. Talk to my PC without software/driver installation – perhaps a web interface like my router
  3. No non-standard file formats
  4. Zero-effort backup and transfer to new phone
  5. Transparent contracts
  6. Device and operator neutrality
  7. Wireless sync at home / work
  8. To be my control centre on the move
  9. Seamless (and secure) connection to other devices
  10. Phone must know when I’m looking for it and should alert me to where it is!

The Rules of Marketing

One, don’t piss off your customer.

Two, make them feel valuable.

Three, give them more than they could possibly want.

Four, be consistent.

Okay, I don’t know the rules of marketing, but take a look at the offerings from MarketingProfs that accumulated in my inbox this afternoon.
MarketingProfs - an offer every four minutes

I imagine Sharon and Shelley fighting it out in the MarketingProfs office:

“I don’t care if they’re unlimited, I want to give them out at half-price!”

“Half price?  No, I say twenty percent off”

[one minute later]

“Maybe that’s a little stingy, how about thirty, it’s their last chance!”

[Four minutes later]

“Sorry Shelley for shouting at you, I was wrong. I miss our little chats, can you ever forgive me?

“Okay, fifty-percent! Can’t talk, he’s here!”

[Five minutes later]

“Oh my god, the server’s overheating. We’ve got to do something, quick reduce it to 20%!”

[Another five minutes later]

“Okay ladies, enough is enough. These are unlimited seminars, even if they are virtual. If you want to come in tomorrow, I suggest you put everything back as it was!”

Daft Cognition

This morning, glancing at the bookshelf I see PJ O’Rourke’s “Age and Guile…” but find myself thinking Polly O’Rourke.

Polly?

Polly Jean of course, PJ Harvey!

The way we process patterns around us is something that’s recently piqued my interest, and increasingly something I’m trying to learn about. I hope to write more on this soon.

Welcome back to Halfway to Reality

After an unduly long downtime, it’s time to relaunch Halfway to Reality.

What am I doing here? It’s simple really.

There are lots of people I rate on the web, discussing topics from programming, interface design, through accessibility, usability, writing and content, to the emotional drivers of users and the businesses beyond. I’d like to credit these people, and hopefully raise and occasionally answer some of the questions that often fall in between the cracks of these subject areas.