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ref: -0 tags: Lehrer internet culture community collapse groupthink date: 06-01-2011 02:22 gmt revision:1 [0] [head]

Response to Jonah Lehrer's The Web and the Wisdom of Crowds:

Lehrer is right on one thing: culture. We're all consuming similar things (e.g. Rebecca Black) via the strong positive feedback of sharing things that you like, liking things that you share, and becoming more like the things that are shared with you. Will this lead to a cultural convergence, or stable n-ary system? To early to tell, but probably not: likely this is nothing new. Would you expect music to collapse to a single genre? No way. Sure, there will be pop culture via the mechanisms Lehrer suggests, but meanwhile there is too much to explore, and we like novelty too much.

Regarding decision making through stochastic averaging as implemented in democracy, I have to agree with John Hawk here. The growing availability of knowledge, news, and other opinions should be a good thing. This ought to be more than enough to counteract the problem of everyone reading say the NYTimes instead of many varied local newspapers; there should be no impoverishment of opinion. Furthermore, we read blogs (like Lehrer's) which have to compete increasingly honestly in the attention economy. The cost of redirecting our attention has gone from that of a subscription to free. Plus, this attention economy ties communication to reality at more points - each reader, as opposed to each publisher, is partially responsible for information amplification and dissemination. (I mean I just published this damn thing and almost zero cost - is that not a great thing?)

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ref: notes-0 tags: CSV blog article group dynamics steinberg date: 07-05-2010 15:30 gmt revision:1 [0] [head]

Another excellent post from Steinberg regarding treating people as predictable nonlinear fluids. "The system works far better when a column is introduced off-center in front of the door,as demonstrated Mr. Torrens. "It's counterintuitive, but the column sends shock waves through the crowds to break up the congestion patterns." (...) Most traffic jams are emergent phenomena that begin with mistakes from just one or two drivers. According to Horvitz's models, they can actually "un-jam" traffic by calling drivers at a particular location, and giving them very specific instructions: "Move to the left-most lane, and then speed-up to 65."