Two weeks ago in New York, we announced
our new Smart Dossiers
product, that leverages the best members of the Techdirt Insight Community
to provide multiple quick, cost effective analytical looks at any company. After launching it, I received an email from a reader asking for some of the thinking behind this product and why we launched it, as he noted that I often break down the business decisions made by other companies, I might as well do so for my own as well.
Fair enough. While obviously, we've been thinking about this quite a bit in designing the product, Kevin Kelly's recent discussion on the problems with bottom-up and top-down content creation models
really comes into play here as well. While I'm a huge fan of bottom-up "crowdsource" models, I'll be the first to admit that they're not right for everything. And, while some people have referred to the Insight Community as "crowdsourcing analysis" that's not quite accurate either. Crowdsourcing, bottom-up, wisdom of the crowds models work well for any type of system where you are trying to zero-in on something that appeases a wider audience. Zeroing in on factual information, for example -- which is why Wikipedia works. Or, coming up with a set of stories that will appeal to a specific group, such as how Digg picks news stories. But there are times when you don't
want the aggregate views of a large audience, but you want a few viewpoints from those who understand something best. These are cases when you're really looking for insight and analysis, not just data or facts. You want creativity and a spark of something different, but you don't want to be overwhelmed.
At the same time, the traditional means of getting such insight and analysis runs into trouble in that you're betting on the single "wise man on the hill" who you hire to provide that analysis. Long ago, companies realized that relying on just a single viewpoint was dangerous. There's much more to be learned by getting together a small group of very knowledgeable, experienced experts in a space who can weigh in directly based on that experience. By having multiple viewpoints you get to learn to important things beyond just the direct insights each participant generates. You get to see where those experts agree (which can be useful) but also where they disagree
, which is where you can often pick up real pieces of wisdom in understanding why
two knowledgeable people disagree over the same subject.
In our own experience, it's in those kinds of brainstorms, where you line up what insights people agree on and where they disagree, that produces the most useful output. So, the Smart Dossiers product (and the wider Techdirt Insight Community service itself) is an attempt to formalize that process and allow companies to easily, cost effectively and quickly tap into a diverse group of experts who can help provide those multiple viewpoints and help companies better understand themselves, their competitors, their customers, their partners, their investments and their investors. Since we launched the Techdirt Insight Community, companies have been rating and ranking the experts in the network based on the insights they provide. With the Smart Dossiers offering, some of the best ranked members of the community are guaranteed to take part in the analysis, making sure that you only get top notch analysis. It's not about the wisdom of the crowds, but about getting multiple perspectives from experts who know what they're talking about.