Kathy Sierra writes an excellent post called The Dumbness of Crowds over at her Creating Passionate Users blog. She writes, "…the most frustrating part for me is how the "Wisdom of Crowds" idea has been twisted and abused to mean virtually the opposite of what New Yorker columnist James Surowiecki says in the book of the same name. He opened a talk at ETech telling us that while ants become smarter as the number of collaborators increases, humans become dumber."
This ties into all the "new" thinking about open source innovation, user-generated content on the Internet, blogs, and Web 2.0. If companies are connecting with customers, how are they using the information? Clearly, as Kathy points out, there is a big difference in collective intelligence and consensus. Consensus is what many think is the goal, whereas that has never led to good design.
Groups and teams are effective when they are diverse and use good ideas, not when they boil things down to the lowest common denominator. In some ways, the American penchant for democracy and voting can go against innovation, risk-taking, and creating new and brilliant ideas.
What do you think? This blog post is brilliant and funny and worth the read. Here’s what I want you to pay attention to: study the wisdom of this blog post. It contains several elements that work to get huge readership (besides the fact that Kathy is a great writer):
- The title plays off a well-known book, and is catchy by it’s snarkiness
- The author creates some original images that are fun to illustrate her points
- She uses quotes effectively
- She stirs up the pot
- She ties her point of view to current ideas and thinking about Web 2.0
She could have easily tied it into Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, You. Since it is the current trend to connect with people through the Internet and companies are looking to tap into the wisdom of user-generated content, how will they do this without succumbing to the dumbness of many?