Monday, April 10, 2006

Crowded decision-making

For all the Malcolm Gladwell and James Surowiecki fans, a friend forwarded this e-mail conversation between the two writers from Slate's Book Club.
Blink vs. The Wisdom of Crowds?

Actually, Malcolm points out that at the core, they both want to promote alternates to the Standard Model of decision-making. The Standard Model says that an expert with years of experience will deliver the best, well considered, rational decision on a subject.
Gladwell's alternative, as outlined in Blink, is that rapid, "thin-sliced" decisions can be every bit as valid--or at least acted upon--as the well-researched ones.

Surowiecki proposes there is a wisdom to crowds that cannot be ignored--that decision-making can be dispersed to non-experts and still come up with a surprising degree of accuracy.

So their conversation gets to the heart of how we make decisions, given different circumstances...and whether one method over another produces *better results.*

Here's what makes it interesting for us library people:

Do people ask you (the expert) for advice on what to read?
Or do they go to, MySpace, reader reviews, socially-constructed metadata?
It seems lately that we are quite willing to trust the wisdom of the crowd as much as--if not more so--than the lone expert.

At least for our consumptive habits: reading materials, sundry household purchases, restaurants to visit.
Where does it stop? Medical decisions? Educational decisions?

Something else cool I saw this morning: Malcolm Gladwell blogs about Freakonomics. And Freakonomics writers blog back...

And I have finally picked up The Rise of the Creative Class...anyone else read it already?


Dorothea said...

I suggest large doses of salt when reading Richard Florida.

Anonymous said...

Those wise crowds that elected Bush?

Alice said...

Thanks Caveat Lector! I will read with eyes open...
lest I make a snap decision on the subject matter.