Posts tagged “wisdom of crowds”

Twitter as the Tree of Souls

The Omaticaya clan link the group mind via the Tree of Souls in the movie Avatar

Steve published a Quickie post recently on the Twitter remix of his Deep Dive Interviewing Secrets webinar.

I was struck by how the Twitter remix goes beyond reportage, not just echoing the points raised in the presentation but adding a layer of synthesis and translating the content across different media.

It’s a crowd-sourced boiling-down, and yet another of many examples of how this type of platform can be harnessed to interpret and respond to events in real time.

It’s also another illustration of how, as complex as technology has become, it so often still exists in service to the most elemental human activities. In this particular usage of Twitter, the support of tribal communication and the distillation of the group mind.

Dynamic Crowd Wisdom

The latest edition of Rob Walker’s Consumed is about Threadless, a darling-of-the-blogosphere site that sells user-submitted/user-chosen t-shirt designs.

The voting system is straightforward: users rate each submission on a 0-to-5 scale and offer comments that range from the constructive to the unprintable. Still, some submissions never make it to the voting stage, usually because they ignore format rules, raise copyright issues or, sometimes, are simply “awful.” (Kalmikoff says that eliminating ugly designs before a vote is an infrequent but sometimes necessary measure to “protect the experience” of Threadless voters.) While most winners have scores of 2.6 or higher, one recent batch included a design with a score of 2.0. That’s because the final decision about which T’s actually get made and sold has always involved a bit of nonpublic number crunching. For example, Threadless looks at how many 0s and 5s a design gets; designs that inspire passionate disagreement often get printed because they tend to sell, Kalmikoff says.

Seems anything but straightforward! But that’s okay, I think it reveals several truths around wisdom of crowd stuff. Neat how the decision process is iterative and cumulative, as the community gets smarter and tries to game the system, and as Threadless gets smarter and tries to right the system. This sort of evolution is completely unacceptable in politics, say, but seems to be innovative when done by Threadless.

I love the blunt naivete of putting forward X choices and having people pick, and then the sophisticated noodling that comes out later as the community grows in sophisticate. It’s not unlike the elaborate hierarchy of individuals, monitoring, and other checks-and-balances created by Wikipedia, outlined by the NYT magazine last week. A simple idea and simple implementation becomes arcane and complex by inches. Is this entropy? Human nature? Evolution? Line extensions?


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