"The Wisdom of Crowds" Book Writeup

April 01, 2012

The Wisdom of Crowds Book Cover The Wisdom of Crowds James Surowiecki ISBN: 0385721706

What’s the point?
It seems like a small group of experts would be best at making intelligent predictions and decisions, but, under the right circumstances, a group of non-experts acting as one can be smarter than the sums of its parts.

The book outlines the necessary requirements to create a “wise crowd” and provides a variety of examples to demonstrate their effectiveness.

How was it?
While it was an interesting read, I didn’t find much in terms of actionable take-aways. The examples in the book are really interesting (especially a story about a naval officer using crowdsourced predictions to locate a sunken submarine) - but I don’t know how I can really use the information directly.

I suppose you can apply the crowdsourcing idea to things like estimating software projects, but I think it is already obvious that getting a group of people with varied experiences is useful.

Who should read it?
In the end, it was a very approachable book about behavioral economics (which I like) in the same genre and style of Freakonomics and Malcolm Gladwell (which I also like), but those looking for new and pragmatic approaches will probably be letdown.

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