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    This is the personal blog of Simon Kendrick and covers my interests in media, technology and popular culture. All opinions expressed are my own and may not be representative of past or present employers
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The failure of the wisdom of crowds

James Surowiecki’s The Wisdom of Crowds argues that across a large and diverse group, the average response will be better and smarter than individual experts. He illustrates this point with the jellybean answer. In a large room of people, few will get close to guessing the correct number of jellybeans in a jar. But the average of their collective responses will be remarkably close to the true number.

A photography exhibition at The Brooklyn Museum entitled Click experimented with curating through crowd-sourcing.

The exhibition was a critical failure. Crowdsourcing works when there is a quantifiable number. When it is subjective opinion on what makes a good photo, opinion congeals into lowest common denominator crowd-pleasers. (Does Hollywood operate via crowdsourcing?)

To quote the Slate article:

Ultimately, “Click!” demonstrates that people—whether they’re experts or laymen—like pictures that remind them of things they’ve seen before.

Curators need to look forward – to know what’s been done before; to recognize exhausted styles and idioms; and to select art that confounds, surprises, and provokes

Which makes sense. In my experience, design by committee descends into a bureaucratic nightmare – appeasing everyone by pleasing no-one.

Long may the power of the auteur continue.

Hat tip to Mintel Alerts for bringing this to my attention.

sk

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vividbreeze/