The wisdom of crowds

James Surowiecki’s Financial Page in the New Yorker has become a must read, a one-page column connecting topics such as macro-economic statistics, currency policy, and Argentina’s promptness policy in clear, concise, enlightening language. He’s coming out with his first book next week, The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations. Kirkus Reviews says,

Multitudes are generally smarter than their smartest members, declares New Yorker writer Surowiecki. With his theory of the inherent sagacity of large groups, Surowiecki seems to differ with Scottish journalist Charles Mackay’s 1841 classic, Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, which dealt with such stupidities as the South Sea Bubble, tulip-mania, odd styles of whiskers, and dueling. Our 21st-century author admits that there are impediments and constraints to the intelligence of large groups, usually problems of cognition, coordination, and cooperation. A group must have knowledge, Surowiecki states: not extensive knowledge, but rudimentary comprehension of basic fact with harmonized behavior by individual members. Finally, individuals must go beyond self-interest for the good of all. That’s how capital markets and Google’s algorithm work, and how science isolated the SARS virus.

Also see his article in Wired.

Behavior Design v2.0

Chris Fahey and friends launch their firm’s v2.0 site. I’ll admit to disliking the previous version, and for all that lacked the new version more than makes up for it, in what is one of the purtiest-funktional designs for a design shop. They include their own original Venn diagram, and the nav bar is just plain fun.

Categorized as Companies

There’s gold in them thar blogs

WordPress and Textpattern, as previously mentioned, were fortunate to hit 1.x versions at approximately the same time as the MT price policy shift. If you were to try calculating the financial ramifications of this shift, you might fill one of your variables with the number 40,000.

Categorized as Blogs

New, Improved NBS

I’ve hired a crack team of stylists, programmers, and librarians to re-organize my five+ years worth of blog posts from four different blogging systems. Work is in progress, but you can start basking in the sheer joy of:

  • A proper RSS 2.0 feed that includes all posts
  • Permalinks and trackbacks
  • Categories now displayed in the navigation for easier exploring. The librarians are still cleaning those up and classifying older posts
  • Posts that post-date the hand-coding era (August ’99) are all in the template system, yielding proper archives.
  • Newer posts will actually validate.

Thanks for your patience while we strive to facilitate a pleasurable surfing experience.

Categorized as Blogs