Someone needs to find a way to get crowds to write software documentation for free. Hey, don't anybody take my idea! I am totally doing it on my next project. Hell, I'm going to pitch it for this project.
Ok, I've read this whole thing, and have come to the conclusion that you are all right. The key appears to be in ebrown's postulation that crowds are only wise in their ability to predict the crowd's actions/opinions. So using crowds to determine popularity works. Language -- my favorite example -- works because the purpose of language is to communicate and be understood by others -- the crowd.
Re: rosborne979 (Post 3365745)
rosborne, I think the "average" idea is fine in concept, but not in reality. Look who the American People voted in for two terms?
ebrown's claim here is that a single person can "outdo the crowd".
What we were all taught in school was the results of the crowd wisdom of mankind as a whole. All those books were written and published by people who went through the same sort of educational process. Unless the lone individual facing the crowd can claim that they've never been in contact with another human being then they are a product of the collective wisdom so any answer they provide to any question is a part of the crowd's wisdom itself.
Too late, it's been done a bunch of times already, and sometimes the software itself is written by the crowd as well:
http://trac.edgewall.org/ - With SCM integration
http://www.mediawiki.org/ - Used by many corporations for crowdsourced documentation, for example here's Motorola's official Motorola Q wiki: http://www.motoqwiki.com/
The one I'm working on now, for instance, would not be the kind of thing users would take the time to write something on a wiki for
You've heard the saying "none of us is as smart as all of us", and you've felt the pressure. A group of individuals working together as a team can do better work, reach better decisions, etc. After all, two heads are better than one. Right?
Given how much I can't stand (with a passion) that idea, I almost skipped the keynote talk by James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds. And that would have sucked. Because what he said was amazing, and I had his perspective (mostly) wrong.
He started with a few thoughts on how ants (and so many other creatures) are quite simple and stupid, but that their intelligence and complexity grows with the number of interactions between them. More ant interaction equals more sophisticated behavior. It's similar to flocking behavior, of course, where birds follow very simple rules but complex behavior emerges.
And that's all great and intuitive... until you get to humans. Humans, he said, demonstrate the opposite principle: more interactions equals dumber behavior. When we come together and interact as a group seeking consensus, we lose sophistication and intelligence. Ants get smarter while we get dumber.
So how does this track with the name of his book?
Where I had it wrong is that his book's premise (wisdom of crowds) comes with qualifiers.
The wisdom of crowds comes not from the consensus decision of the group, but from the aggregation of the ideas/thoughts/decisions of each individual in the group.