Tag Archives: james surowiecki

Best of Craigslist and the wisdom of crowds

The are a number of examples of crowdsourcing, as formalized by James Surowiecki and his insightful book The Wisdom of Crowds. The idea that you can create good content, information or ideas by an open process where a broad collection of people can choose to submit and then vote on ideas, with the most popular ideas rising to the top.

My favorite if trivial example is the ‘best of Craigslist’ site here. As you’re probably aware, Craigslist enables people to buy and sell things through a low fidelity, but very successful mass posting board. Some of those postings are notably clever, funny or weird. Note the language and content of the posts isn’t controlled or censored.

I also discuss some of the media implications of the crowdsourcing trend here.

The Changing Media

The internet significantly changes how information is produced and consumed.

Realtime media

Interesting post on TechCrunch on how the news media will change to to realtime tools like Twitter.  Twitter, now with 5 million users, appears to be able to beat traditional media in reporting breaking news by about 45 minutes based on recent events such as Tiger Woods’ crash. The claim is that the traditional media is more reliable in its reporting, but the article questions that, as realtime media can introduce healthy scepticism and has the advantage of what James Surowiecki terms the wisdom of crowds.

Media Polarization

The other important theme to monitor is media polarization, as this article shows, people tend to watch news that mirrors their political beliefs. Watching news that agrees with your political bias tends to reinforce that bias. For example if you’re a Republican/Democrat and you watch Fox News/CNN, then that tends to reinforce your bias.

The Implications

With more sources for consuming information, such as an estimated 200 million blogs and the traditional media diminishing in importance, the likelihood is that people will increasingly seek out fragmented media sources that reflect, and reinforce their views.