The “Wisdom of Crowds” seems to be this magical term of Web 2.0 and Open Source. If you Google the term, there are about 1.2 million results, including Wikipedia, Blink, Mavericks at Work, Starfish and the Spider, Wikinomics, etc.
Is it really the Wisdom of Crowds?
IMHO, I don’t believe so. I believe it’s more of a game of statistics and probability. The Internet has offered us a means of effectively communicating with one another through email, search engines, blogs, wikis and open source projects. By getting the word out to millions, you’re not really enlisting the wisdom of millions. You’re simply bringing the information to some smart folks in that million.
If my chances of winning a $1 million lottery were 1 in 6.5 million, I could purchase each of the 6.5 million tickets and win. However, I only really won with 1 ticket! It wasn’t the wisdom of buying the 6.5 million tickets… that was kind of dumb since I lost $5.5 million on the deal, didn’t I? Putting the information out on the web doesn’t cost millions, though – it’s sometimes free or at the most a few cents.
I find the comments on my blog are similar… they add fantastic points to the post. I really love comments – they get the discussion moving and provide either support or opposition to the point I’m trying to make. However, for every 100 people that read my blog, only 1 or 2 actually write a comment. That’s not to say that the other readers aren’t brilliant (after all, they’re reading my blog aren’t they? ;)). It just means that the Wisdom of Crowds with respect to my content is only due to a few readers.
Or is it the Wisdom of Reaching Crowds?
By reaching far more, though, I’m able to capture those few readers. Perhaps it’s not the Wisdom of Crowds, it’s really the Wisdom of Reaching Crowds.