Posts filed under ‘wisdom of crowds’

More thought on Google Pages

Thinking more about Google Pages, I think I get the idea.  Consider, there are a couple ways to help people find information.  One way is ‘search’ and using relevance and PageRank; Google’s got that down pretty well.  The other is to have an index, a hierarchical grouping of categories to browse, like the Dewey decimal system or Yahoo directory.  The former works well, but you’re often faced with millions of “relevant” hits.  The latter doesn’t scale well, as it takes a lot of people to come up with the taxonomy, but the provided results might be very relevant, and you’re only faced with, perhaps, the most relevant, as filtered by experts. 

I think Google is trying to harvest the work of the masses, the Wisdom of Crowds, the work they put into creating Google pages – putting *words* next to *links* – to improve the relevance of search.  They *own* the pages.  More food for the googlemonster. 

I am reminded of the collaborative approach undertaken with the development of The New Dictionary, what became the Oxford English Dictionary as described in the book The Meaning of Everything.  While Google Pages are presented as a way for people to easily create a web presence, I think this is another way for Google to enlist the masses in efforts to improve their service.  

I think this is why the service is so bare bones.  The more bells and whistles, the less it might appeal to folks new to authoring.  The real goal might be described as a way to push us toward Web 3.0 which I’ve defined as the point where the web’s author:user ratio becomes 1:1.  Again. 

How is this different than their analogous use of Blogger?  Maybe it appeals to different people?  Maybe there is a difference between semi-static content on webpages and the dynamic time flux of a blog? 

Some of the comments at PC World echo these ideas.


Also, at Google Pages, they say, “The pages you create can be crawled by Google within a few hours of publication. ”  There’s probably some interesting info on the terms of use too.


February 28, 2006 at 1:42 pm Leave a comment

More Wisdom of Crowds

P. 35 chasing the expert is a waste of time.  If a group is so unintelligent that it will founder without the right expert…why would the group be intelligent enough to find him? 

P. 37 groupthink doesn’t censor dissent as much as make it improbable.  Even if no consensus exists, only the appearance on one, a group’s sense of cohesiveness turns appearance into reality.  Deliberation in a groupthink setting doesn’t open people’s minds; it enforces the assumed consensus and closes minds.  Groupthink is a result of a homogenous group. 

P.40 Describes ant colonies and ‘circular mills’ where ants get lost, follow the ant in front of them, and get caught in a circle until they drop dead.  Mentions Stephen Johnson‘s book Emergence.  

P.41 one of the quickest ways to make people’s judgments biased is to make them dependent on each other for information.  Independent individuals are more likely to have new information rather than the same old data everyone is familiar with.  You can be biased and irrational but as long as you’re independent you won’t make the group dumber.


February 22, 2006 at 2:12 pm Leave a comment

The Wisdom of Crowds notes and links

I finished reading James Surowiecki‘s The Wisdom of Crowds.  Here are some notes and comments. 

P.xv “We assume that the key to solving problems or making good decisions is finding that one right person who will have the answer…we feel the need to chase the expert.  The argument of this book is that chasing the expert is a mistake.” 

P.xviii A few kinds of problems crowds deal with, cognition, coordination, and cooperation.  The conditions necessary for crowds to be wise: diversity (of thought), independence, and …decentralization [with a way to aggregate results].  (more…)

February 21, 2006 at 1:54 pm 1 comment

Wisdom in popular music?

Reading the comment in SlashDot today, how songs get popular, pointing at the article, The Science of Hit Songs, by Carey, “….Turns out popularity bred popularity….” reminds me of, The Wisdom of Crowds, by James Surowiecki, and the perils of information cascades which can destroy group wisdom.

February 10, 2006 at 10:52 am Leave a comment

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