In the previous post in this series the subject of personal crowds was introduced, along with touching on how decisions are made both by individuals and by supposedly authentic online crowds.
The original wisdom of crowds concept specified four key attributes for what could be called wise crowds:
It can be argued that Independence is not possible on most social sharing sites, especially where the interactions are conversational. The independence aspect is lost because people are supposed to look at others’ activities and comment, react, and otherwise collaborate with them. People don’t construct their contributions in isolation.
And Aggregation into a single decision is not always valid for constructing wise book reviews or wikis that reflect all of the crowd. The viewpoint of each contributor cannot easily be aggregated in many cases. The wisest voices may be over-ruled by the noisiest ones or the most popular ones. And the method of aggregation is always controversial – is it authentic? – and subject to manipulation.
Diversity and Decentralization are characteristics of most online crowds. Large social networks are typically diverse, and decentralized.
If we pick the part of the crowd that we hang out with, and seek their slices of wisdom, the diversity element may start to be challenged. And that may be okay, for everything from restaurant reviews to hiring to deciding on activities.
If the tools allow it, our personal crowds will be dynamic, and based on the situation they will provide guidance for us that is smarter and wiser than we are.
But do we always need wisdom? The next post in this series will explore the path from data to wisdom.