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The Wisdom of Crowds

MaisonBisson.com notes:
“The TV studio audience of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire guesses correctly 91 percent of the time, compared to “experts” who guess only 65 percent correctly.”
This is apparently from, The wisdom of crowds: why the many are smarter than the few and how collective wisdom shapes business, economies, societies, and nations by James Surowiecki (New York: Doubleday, 2004). I’ve been meaning to read it for so long. I’ll have to pick it up at the airport this week.
Hmmm.
Are librarians experts? Do we fail to see the right path or know the correct information too often? I doubt that’s the right interpretation. We can be a crowd too! Between social networks, collaboration spaces and blogs and discussion lists (remember them?), we should be able to think through anything and adapt and invent new modalities as the world shifts. It might also help if we asked questions outside our own comfortable circles more often.
Stephen

Posted on: December 6, 2005, 5:31 pm Category: Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. David Creelman said

    The Millionaire audience is accurate not because of guessing but because a reasonable percentage (say 25%) know the answer, and the other 75% are randomly distributed across the available answer. Who remembers their stats classes? If we accept my guess that 25% know the answer, how frequently would they be out voted by a chance distribution of the other 75%?

  2. Thanks for your reply to my much-earlier Google question.
    Since getting my feet wet in the professional world of librarians, I have often been taken aback at the stagnation that seems so prevalent in our profession. We should definately be not only venturing beyond our comfort circles, but shattering those percieved boundaries. We are a profession of multi-disciplinarians, and yet we still produce over-abundance of “research” based on reference desk usage, and book placements, etc…
    I have never been an advocate of throwing out the dreaded L-word, I personally find the term “Informatist” distasteful. It stinks of shame. But we definately need to educate on what it means to be a librarian, more than that, we need to reclaim our profession from IT specialists, taxonomists, and metadata experts.
    We can/should do so much more…