Thursday, March 30, 2006

Wisdom Of Crowds - the quick version

I just listened tonight to a talk by the author of Wisdom Of Crowds, James Surowiecki. The talk essentially gives a summary of the book by the author himself ( a rare opportunity!)

The theory of the book is simple - groups of poeple, under the right circumstances, can be much more accurate in making decisions than even the smartest individuals. This holds true for even especially wicked problems.

At first this seemed a bit of a crazy notion - afterall, I've had my fair share of group meetings in the past that were hardly wildly productive. But after listening to James, I really think he's on to something big.

Do yourself a favor and listen to the talk. At the very least, read the Wikipedia entry. Then, when you are so impressed, listen to the talk.

Via: Start-Up 2.0 - A Beginners Guide.


  1. Hey! A link to the blog! How great!

    BTW, you do get most everything of value out of the book in the podcast. The book has a bunch more examples which are great for anecdotes but the ideas are all there in the talk.

  2. Anonymous11:10 AM

    Is this the same theory as jellybean counting? Ask 1,000 people how many jellybeans are in a jar, and you’ll get absurd answers like 10 and 10 million, and you’ll get everything in between, but if you average them up, you’re likely to come close to right answer. I’ve heard it said that a group, collectively, is smarter than its smartest members.


  3. Christian --

    That's exactly it. In fact, this is essentially the first example used in the book.

    What's so neat though is that this notion goes beyond this toy exercise. It can actually be used to solve real world problems.