wise collective of independents

The following is an excerpt of a grammatically tidied transcript from a TED talk about social media (blogs) by James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds:

“The premise of The Wisdom of Crowds is that, under the right conditions, groups can be remarkably intelligent. And they often can actually be smarter than the smartest person within them.

“Dan Gilmore, author of We the Media, has talked about it as saying, as a writer, he’s recognized that his readers know more than he does.

“The more tightly linked we become to each other, the harder it is for each of us to remain independent. One of the fundamental characteristics of a network is that once you are linked in the network, the network starts to shape your views and starts to shape your interactions with everybody else. That’s one of the things that defines what a network is.

“But the problem is that groups are only smart when the people in them are as independent as possible. This is the paradox of the wisdom of crowds or the paradox of collective intelligence – that what it requires is actually a form of independent thinking and networks make it harder for people to do that because they drive attention to the things that the network values.

“So one of the phenomenon that is very clear in the blogosphere is that once a meme – once an idea gets going it is very easy for people to just pile on because other people have a link, people have linked to it, and so other people in turn link to it, etc. And that phenomenon of piling on the existing links is one that is characteristic of the blogosphere, particularly the political blogosphere, and it is one that essentially throws off this beautiful decentralized, bottom-up intelligence that blogs can manifest in the right conditions.”

TED.com on Surowiecki: He’s the author of The Wisdom of Crowds and writes about finance for the New Yorker.

One Response to “wise collective of independents”

  1. Jamie MacDonald Says:

    Visit Jamie MacDonald

    Hi Matt – Congrats on being a free man again!

    Thank you for your service to your community for so long. As the weeks turn into months you will gain greater insights into all that you learned during that sometimes unpleasant, but also stretching experience.

    I really liked your ads in the campaign,the “myth and fact” ads were the best of all candidates – maybe the best I’ve seen in municipal elections ever!

    Be in touch and hope to see you around town soon. Best to you in your future endeavours.


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