Friday, May 22, 2009

it takes a village. but what if they're all village idiots?

how about those wolves? gotta get me some wolvesThe wisdom of crowds? mmmaybe not.

James Surowiecki’s book, The Wisdom of Crowds, explores the concept of how large groups of people can be smarter than an elite few: Better at solving problems, fostering innovation and coming to wise decisions.

Mr. Surowiecki might have been startled by a story in The Washington Post about how an unremarkable T-shirt soared to the very top of Amazon’s best-selling clothing list. The very, very top.

The black T-shirt pictures three wolves howling at the moon; you’ve seen it — basically — in every T-shirt shop on every boardwalk. According to The Post, the shirt got a push from collegehumor.com. And then, people were able to post images of themselves wearing the shirt. And other people wearing the shirt. This week, hundreds of reviewers gave their heartfelt recommendations of the shirt on Amazon’s comments area. Wisdom of crowds? Really?

  • I walked from my trailer to Wal-mart with the shirt on and was immediately approached by women

  • I have worn the T-shirt many times and have yet to exhibit any skill at bounding through the woods or sniffing. My growling abilities still suck too.
    The Three Wolf Moon T-Shirt gave me a +10 resistance to energy attacks, +8 Strength, and added 30 feet to my normal leap.

  • Since owning the Three Wolf Moon T-Shirt, I have successfully solved 7 crimes in my city, including 4 cold case murders.

  • Most shirts like this only contain one wolf. This shirt has three wolves, plus a moon. You are basically getting three wolves and a moon for the price on one wolf. You won't find that deal anywhere else.
So it’s just a lot of people getting silly over a shirt, right? Except I saw Jared Spool speaking at a recent Usability Experience conference. He talked about another item on Amazon that had attracted an enormous crowd: Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 Gallon, 128 fl oz. More than 1,000 reviewers offered their opinions. Among them:
  • Once upon a mid-day sunny, while I savored Nuts 'N Honey,
    With my Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 gal, 128 fl. oz., I swore
    As I went on with my lapping, suddenly there came a tapping,
    As of some one gently rapping, rapping at the icebox door.
    'Bad condensor, that,' I muttered, 'vibrating the icebox door -
    Only this, and nothing more.'

  • Has anyone else tried pouring this stuff over dry cereal? A-W-E-S-O-M-E!

  • Horrible service, I bought my milk and went with the 7-9 day super saver shipping method and it arrived warm and curdled. What the hell?
So maybe it’s not wisdom the crowds are displaying here, but they are showing incredibly, collaborative creativity. Maybe you’ll look at milk differently, or notice someone – in a crowd – wearing a wolves T-shirt. These crowds have built a scaffolding environment upon which others can add.

How will you contribute?

1 comment:

Realty Secret Agent said...

I LOVE grammar for MBA's. Carrots, Choo Choos....Fabulous!

If they are all village idiots, they will attract the village idiot crowd.

There is so much SPACE out there. So much of it is untapped...unmotivated to participate.

What does it take to prompt the crowd, whoever they are, to respond.

Isn't that really the question for today's technology and social media?