This book by James Surowiecki shows how, under the right curcumstances, crowds can make better decisions than individuals, and individual experts. I want to spend the next few posts talking about his insights in the context of Web 2.0 and the media.

Talking about smart crowds, Surowiecki, means an assembly of people that meets four critieria: 1) it needs to be diverse, with different people bringing different info to the table; 2) It must be decentralized with no leader at the top; 3) there needs to be a way (the web, say) for aggregating everyone’s opinion into a result, like a vote; and 4) members of the crowd have to be independent, so that they care more for themselves than what other may think of them.

And as Surowiecki shows, you get some interesting results; from the simple, a group accurately estimating the number of jelly beans in a jar, to the more complex, scientists in groups around the world identifying te SARS virus, to the very complex, investors in the marketplace.

So what about Web 2.0 and the media?  Next posting.