Friday, August 03, 2007

Wisdom vs. Crowds

In this new era of the web (web 2.0 for the trend whores), we've come to adopt the ideology of the wisdom of crowd. The democracy of information brings excitement to tired old models of media like couples making love in public, being aroused by the fear of being caught. Akin to the love movement of the sixties, the social outcry seems to be damn the man and power to the people. The truth is, social wisdom is only an echo of innovation and not it's source. A crowd is the distribution system of wisdom. The idea that information wants to be free is to say that ignorance seeks enlightenment. For example, the concept of electricity is commonly understood and taken for granted in the modern age; but not so long ago it was only a theory in the minds of a few brave lunatics willing to ignore the crowds of people informing them of it's impossibilities. In fact, historically crowds are the last thing accused of being wise. If crowds were wise, the holocaust may never have happened and elections would be unanimous. The thing is, we all like to think that great ideas were our own. Common sense is a way of saying "I could of thought of that". Crowds seem wise because when an individual thinks outside the box and discovers new avenues of thought, the crowd quickly latches on resounding the notion as if it were their own. The crowd takes credit, not willing to admit their ignorance. But make no mistake, there is always an individual at the heart of the movement. The very nature of a crowd is to repeat mantras and subscribe whole heartedly to prepackaged doctrines, shunning outsiders for not agreeing with the majority. I don't mean to tear down the idea of social awareness. I would just like to point out that giving too much credit to what the majority says brings with it the damnation of innovation. Popular opinion is always something to be considered, but wholesale adoption of public belief will keep you from truly finding your own path and possibly from sharing a lesson learned to your fellow man. The only wisdom to be found in the crowd is in the debate, and in finding your own voice within it.

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