How to choose your crowd wisely.
I don't intend to review Surowiecki's book here. Numerous
reviews, and almost countless references, can be found on the web. We could
even make the claim that wise crowds have become a
sort of meme, working its way through our culture.
is from a review of the book that appears on one of numerous NASA
Surowiecki identifies four characteristics
of wise crowds: But
very similar lists, and a seemingly endless repeating of the same stories from
the book, show up on a variety of sites - church sermons, stock market information
sites, futurist sites, and of course blogs and more blogs. Each "community",
of course, has its own particular reason for quoting Surowiecki. Sometimes it's
in order to suggest how the members of that group might better make group decisions.
Often, however, we get the feeling that many of these "communities"
are pleased that Surowiecki has discovered what they knew all along: Our group
was smart before reading the book, they seem to suggest. We're quoting from the
book because it shows that we've been doing the right thing. Your group,
on the other hand, should take a closer look at it.
- The crowd must be diverse, which allows the individual
members to bring different pieces of relevant information to the table.
needs to be decentralized so that no individual member is dictating what the answer
- It needs a mechanism for distilling the group's opinion into
a collective verdict.
- The individual crowd members have to be independent,
so they remain true to their own information and perspective while not worrying
about what the other members of the group think of them.
Go to: Are crowds really that smart?