more on websquared and how we make decisions

The O’Reilly websquared paper http://www.web2summit.com/web2009/public/schedule/detail/10194

gives some tantalizing glimpses of where things are going, and talks about an explosion in 2010.

One quote:

“Web 2.0 is all about harnessing collective intelligence.” (all of us are smarter than some of us) But I did notice that the twitter conversation around this also brought up the thought that sometimes collective “wisdom” is actually pretty stupid, and that got me thinking about some of the old 1950 and 60’s research on bad group decision-making. Then I found a more recent article

http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/01/15/social.conformity.brain/index.html

that basically gets at the same thing.

Can both viewpoints contain some truth?

Hopefully yes, perhaps because in Web 2.0 information is more than just a room full of people with opinions where a strong personality can dominate…. the new tools in some ways flatten out our strategies for communicating (making us more equal) but also there are definite trends towards information sharing through Web 2.0 that is more than just our words.  As this environment of communication becomes more and more enhanced (ideas in the O’Reilly paper include data systems that link to each other and a web that learns from itself, sensor-driven and in real-time) then the evidence used by groups to make their decisions will be more verifiable which should lead to better decisions altogether.

As always, there will be skills involved (Shirky’s filtering perhaps?) and educational opportunities must be created to promote these skills in an inclusionary manner, but I believe there is reason for optimism.

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