It's Not Experts vs. Crowds; It's Picking The Right Tool For The Job
from the worthwhile-discussions dept
However, it seems to be that the setup to this debate is pretty much wrong. It's not a case of the crowd vs. experts. In fact, most experts are a part of the various crowds as well. This has always been one of the problems I've had with typical complaints against Wikipedia where people trot out the brain surgery myth that trusting Wikipedia is like letting a totally inexperienced "crowd" perform brain surgery. The problem with this idea is that it assumes that there aren't any brain surgeons in the crowd, and that the expertise of those surgeons won't become clear pretty quickly. Secondly, it highlights the fallacy that if you use the "wisdom of the crowd" for one thing, you must use it for everything else. That's simply false. There are things where the wisdom of the crowd makes sense and there are others (like, for example, brain surgery) where you want an expert. No, we don't want our brain surgeons entirely trained off of Wikipedia... but we don't want them entirely trained off of the Encyclopedia Britannica either. The point is that you use the right tool for the right job.
So, when it comes to the Techdirt Insight Community, it's again a case of understanding the right tool for the right job. The companies using the community aren't doing so to get a broad representative sample of everyone. They're doing so to get the knowledge, wisdom and insight of a small group of people who can look at a situation and think it through, based on their experiences. It's not about coming to a central "truth" where a crowd can help you narrow in on an agreed upon point, but in getting valuable opinions of those who have a variety of perspectives, and being able to see the interplay among those different perspectives to help a company make important decisions or understand the more important nuances of news or trends that impact them. So, instead of thinking of this as the wisdom of crowds vs. the wisdom of experts, it's about understanding the job at hand and making sure you have the right tool for it. For certain things, letting the crowds make decisions works out very well, and for others, getting the insight and collective viewpoint of people with more expertise makes sense.