“No one in this world, so far as I know, has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.” —H. L. Mencken
H. L. Mencken was wrong.
In this endlessly fascinating book, New Yorker columnist James Surowiecki explores a deceptively simple idea that has profound implications: large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant—better at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions, even predicting the future.
This seemingly counterintuitive notion has endless and major ramifications for how businesses operate, how knowledge is advanced, how economies are (or should be) organized and how we live our daily lives. With seemingly boundless erudition and in delightfully clear prose, Surowiecki ranges across fields as diverse as popular culture, psychology, ant biology, economic behaviorism, artificial intelligence, military history and political theory to show just how this principle operates in the real world.
Despite the sophistication of his arguments, Surowiecki presents them in a wonderfully entertaining manner. The examples he uses are all down-to-earth, surprising, and fun to ponder. Why is the line in which you’re standing always the longest? Why is it that you can buy a screw anywhere in the world and it will fit a bolt bought ten-thousand miles away? Why is network television so awful? If you had to meet someone in Paris on a specific day but had no way of contacting them, when and where would you meet? Why are there traffic jams? What’s the best way to win money on a game show? Why, when you walk into a convenience store at 2:00 A.M. to buy a quart of orange juice, is it there waiting for you? What do Hollywood mafia movies have to teach us about why corporations exist?
The Wisdom of Crowds is a brilliant but accessible biography of an idea, one with important lessons for how we live our lives, select our leaders, conduct our business, and think about our world.
An easy-to-read and though-provoking book about collective intelligent. It stresses, provided the crowd is independent and diversified, that the crowd can deduce better decision than the average individual.
The concept is similar to the one proposed in another book, The Starfish and the Spider. The catch is that when there are too many people buying the same argument/decision, it creates the social interdependence that breaks the accuarcy of this theory.
Why? One reason is the so called social proof. When the number of people in the bandwagon increase, the more general public it will attract, the less diverisified the group may become. Another point is called Infotmation Cascade. A few first-tryer may influence the public to a good or bad bandwagon. This is similar to the epidemics as mentioned in Tipping Point (mavens, connectors, salemen). Sometimes imatation is good, only if poeple do not follow mindlessly.
To have a good balance, there ought to be an effective means for individual contribution be made known at the global level. Or else the crowd are not aware of it and cannot collectively decide whether it is good or not.
Comparatively, the first half of the book on the basic advocation of crowd intelligent is more interesting than the second half on case study. Despite of this, this book gives fair perspective on different sides of the coins. It worths the time....Continua
The author suggests here that a bunch of dumb people actually can do better than 1 single genius. That is, 1+1=3!
But, it is with certain conditions:
1. The mass got to be big enough
2. Each person need to make independent decision, to avoid decision cascade
3. The mass should be diversify enough, to avoid group think.
This sound very good, and actually explained why deomcratic makes good sense, and why we should act as selfish as we can to create good market in this capitalist economy!
BUT, I am not convinced, at all!
The author able to quote a lot of very interesting examples to backup his book, but this is far from enough. I suppose any arguement can give quite some example if you are dig them out serious enough. What the author need to do is to provide a hypothesis! An explaination why 1+1=3 is working! This is something the author cannot do at all in this very thick book. But, this book should be published after "Fooled by Randomness", the author should know that seeing 20 million white swan does not rule out the possibility of black swan.........
Just smooth talk does not help to convince me....Continua