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November 1, 2009 / Elizabeth

Wisdom of crowds

For NCT tutorials in Week 2, we talked about the topic of wisdom of crowds

What we learnt for wisdom of crowds was that the collective intelligence of a group of people is more accurate than an individual expert. For wisdom of crowds to occur, there must be..

  • Diversity of opinion – Each person should have private information even if it’s just an eccentric interpretation of the known facts.
  • Independence – One’s opinion is not determined nor influenced by others
  • Decentralisation – No one is controlling the group and dictating what to or not to do. People are able to specialize and draw on local knowledge.
  • Aggregation – Collection of individuals’ judgements

Its just like that saying,

two heads are better then oneFrom

Cliched, but true.

Before the tutorial, most (or all) of us had no idea that we were making use of this in our Internet lives everyday. During the tutorial, we learnt that search engines such as Google utilise the wisdom of crowds for their search results rankings.

For Google, they use a PageRank system where they give every site a ranking from 1-10. A website’s rage rank is determined by the number of links to that particular website. But of course if you have a website with a PageRank of 6, instead of several websites that have a PageRank of 3 linking you, your ranking would be much better.

If you are curious about your page ranking, check it HERE.

Its like what was mentioned in tutorial, not only are we being judged in real life, but also on the internet. And in some ways, its just like a popularity contest, don’t you think?

And of course I can’t forget huge websites such as Wikipedia and YouTube, or my favourite Kpop websites OmonaTheyDidnt! or Soompi that fully utilises the wisdom of crowds in order to keep their website up and running well.

Wikipedia allows users to contribute to articles and change the content on a Wikipedia article however they deem fit.  Individuals who edit a Wikipedia article are not influenced nor determined by others. According to the theory of wisdom of crowds, Wikipedia works in a way that the more people edit an article, the more reliable and/or accurate it gets.

It is true that in some cases, some netizens would turn the Wikipedia article into something like an Uncyclopedia article, i.e.: distort facts, insert vulgarities into the articles, etc. Time is needed to edit and correct the information, and it eventually does.

Its up to us to determine what to trust the content of  these websites.  Since our secondary school days, we’ve been taught to always cross-reference our sources. The same thing applies here, when in doubt, must cross-reference!


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