The Wisdom Of Crowds

I like fresh thinking from the political parties. They all brag about new policy ideas, but most are simply regurgitated ideas from many moons ago.

So I was particularly drawn to this BBC News Article on the Tory idea for a £100000 prize for the design of a website that could harness the collective ability of large groups of people. The idea is to enhance policy making and avoid the catastophes so common when governement put their trust in narrow bands of experts or consultants. Often all that then emerges from the ensuing calamity is a very large bill..

While the idea of a prize may be just another bit of political window dressing, the concept of "The Wisdom Of Crowds" is major step forward in political thinking and is well worth further investigation and investment. If you have not read it, I highly recommend the book which is central to this.

Unsurprisingly the title of the book in question is "The Wisdom of Crowds" and was written by James Surowiecki. It really is an eye opener. I read it a couple of years ago and it made me question a great many of my long held views on how things should be done.

The basics of Surowiecki's book is that a narrow base of experts is less likely to arrive at the optimum solution to a problem that a larger group. In fact it is almost always the case that the larger group comes up with the better solution. The book goes on to analyse failings due to bullying, peer pressure and the concept of the false committee which is really a dictatorship of yesmen(women). It is really interesting stuff that could possibly make major inroads into the incompetence and cronyism that besets out democracy.

Democracy is also one of the aspects of "The Wisdom of Crowds". The book helps explain why democracy is so successful when compared to the sundry forms of dictatorship available.

I hope the Conservatives stick with this and get it off the ground. It was sad to see the other parties resorting to spiteful triviality.

Perhaps they need to read the book.


OldSlaughter said...

Thank you for pointing me towards this.

Nice blog by the way. You hairy bastard.

OldSlaughter said...

It says a full million it seems.