I found this week’s readings fascinating and had to go through all the articles about group think, wisdom, etc. It makes sense that if you put together a diverse group of people who are applying their expertise and providing a new viewpoint towards a problem, as in the case Goldcorp mentioned by Tapscott and Williams, new solutions are bound to pop up. However, Jenkins’ article makes an important distinction between collective intelligence and the wisdom of crowds. In Surowiecki’s Wisdom of Crowds anonymous data is gathered from a large group of people who are not influenced by each other where as Levy’s Collective Intelligence theory focuses on large groups of people who are sharing information and collaborating to come up with a solution.
I can see both models having positive and negative aspects. For the Surowiecki model one does not have to worry that someone with a strong ability to influence others is skewing the data coming out of a scenario and therefore producing less accurate data. However, since this group of people have no interaction they also lose the ability to discuss and build on top of each others ideas and possibly coming up with a better solution. In comparison Levy’s collective intelligence approach literally has a group of people working together, sharing information and coming up with a solution. The main problem there is that some people can have too much of an influence on others without data to support their stance and thus can skew the results.
Both concepts have their place in problem solving and when utilizing the ideas in the work space they can be successfully implemented. Hence, the plethora of committees, councils, anonymous surveys, etc. The key is to recognize when to use each theory and ensure it is appropriate to the situation.
Tapscott, D and Williams, A. (2007). “Innovation in the Age of Mass Collaboration.”
Business Week. Jenkins, H. (2006). “Collective Intelligence vs. The Wisdom of Crowds.”