Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Just how wise are crowds, anyway?

Alex Beam of the Boston Globe writes:
The proverbial bottom line is that the theoretical underpinning of Wikipedia, the fashionable notion of "crowdsourcing," or "the wisdom of crowds," is nonsense. There is no wisdom in crowds. The crowd drinks Coke. The crowd elects George Bush or — God forbid — John Kerry. The crowd accepts authority unquestioningly, especially when it's dressed up as a "cool" new information source. So who would you rather have write your encyclopedia entries? Bertrand Russell, T.H. Huxley, and Benedetto Croce, who wrote for the Britannica? Or ... EssJay?
However, the real interesting thing about this article is not that Mr. Beam's article contained garbage, because we're quite used to that, but rather that he wasn't able to get it removed until he called Larry Lessig. Jimbo's backchannels don't scale; there needs to be a better process for removing obvious crap from articles than waiting for someone to get so frustrated as to track down one of Jimbo's friends.