Dumbness of Crowds

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From a blog entry by Kathy Sierra at http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2007/01/the_dumbness_of.html


Kathy Sierra argues that the concept of the Wisdom of Crowds, as explained by James Surowiecky, refers to combining individual intelligence, which is combined without the individuals being in close contact with each other, so that they can't contaminate each other. But many contemporary aggregation projects do not respect this constraint, and this results in badly conceived consensus-based Groupthink, or to use her own concept, the Dumbness of Crowds.

Sam Rose explains the concept of Collective Intelligence and its difference from the Wisdom of Crowds in a separate entry.


Some examples of tis dumbness, contrasted with true Collective Intelligence:

What's the difference between Collective Intelligence and Dumbness of Crowds? A few examples:

"Collective intelligence" is a pile of people writing Amazon book reviews.

"Dumbness of Crowds" is a pile of people collaborating on a wiki to collectively author a book. (Not that there aren't exceptions, but that's just what they are--rare exceptions for things like reference books. I'm extremely skeptical that a group will produce even a remotely decent novel, for example. Most fiction suffers even with just two authors.)

"Collective Intelligence" is all the photos on Flickr, taken by individuals on their own, and the new ideas created from that pool of photos (and the API).

"Dumbness of Crowds" is expecting a group of people to create and edit a photo together.

"Collective Intelligence" is about getting input and ideas from many different people and perspectives.

"Dumbness of Crowds" is blindly averaging the input of many different people, and expecting a breakthrough. (It's not always the averaging that's the problem it's the blindly part)

"Collective Intelligence" is about the community on Threadless, voting and discussing t-shirts designed by individuals.

"Dumbness of Crowds" would be expecting the Threadless community to actually design the t-shirts together as a group." (http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2007/01/the_dumbness_of.html)