Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why The Wisdom of Crowds Is Not Always Wise

It may shock you to hear this but sometimes I make comments on things I know bugger all about.

Sometimes I make comments in the media on things I know bugger all about but I say it with authority and concerned eyebrows so that's the main thing.

Today, I met a dude that worked on a thing that I commented on and told him what I said.

He said, “well actually that's not right but it was too hard to explain to the public so we just let people think that. You actually came to the right conclusion off the information you had.”

An interesting idea.

So he set out to explain the real reason that the thing that I commented on happened. With many diagrams and hand gestures and some very good explaining, I still didn't really get it and there was commercially sensitive stuff and personalities at play to ensure it was really messy.

There were legal issues and regulations and stakeholder management conflicts and inherited issues from legacy systems and the moon being out of alignment.

I kind of saw his point. Media people want all the information in thirty seconds and companies run the risk of having issues oversimplified and misrepresented if they don't provide a soundbite response. So the company saw a popular theme coming through in blogs and forums and let the idea stick rather then correcting it. Politicians do it all the time e.g. War on Terror but is it evil spin doctoring or is it sensible communications management? The company wasn't trying to misrepresent anything they just had a gut feeling that the whole thing was too complicated without all the pieces of the puzzle and the pieces were in themselves, complicated. He was quite open and happy to sit down and explain everything to me properly when he had more time and could paint the full picture.

So maybe the wisdom of crowds isn't so wise after all?

Posted via email from cjlambert's posterous

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