A nice article to read: Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism, By Jaron Lanier..
“The beauty of the Internet is that it connects people. The value is in the other people. If we start to believe the Internet itself is an entity that has something to say, we’re devaluing those people and making ourselves into idiots.”
“But it is not infinitely useful. The collective can be stupid, too. Witness tulip crazes and stock bubbles. Hysteria over fictitious satanic cult child abductions. Y2K mania. The reason the collective can be valuable is precisely that its peaks of intelligence and stupidity are not the same as the ones usually displayed by individuals. Both kinds of intelligence are essential.”
“The illusion that what we already have is close to good enough, or that it is alive and will fix itself, is the most dangerous illusion of all. By avoiding that nonsense, it ought to be possible to find a humanistic and practical way to maximize value of the collective on the Web without turning ourselves into idiots. The best guiding principle is to always cherish individuals first.”
I tend to agree with most points Jaron is making. I disagree with this piece:
“Collectives can be just as stupid as any individual, and in important cases, stupider. The interesting question is whether it’s possible to map out where the one is smarter than the many.”
Personally I think there is always more knowledge available in a group than in an individual, it’s the process of processing this knowledge (aggregate) that can lead to more, or less useful information. The one is not smarter than the many, but for some problems you’ll need one person to make coherent choices. This person could aggregate the knowledge of the larger group. As I try to do for building Helpalot.
As for Helpalot itself; the goal for Helpalot is to tap into the great pool of knowledge we collectively have in our social system. I think using the social network as a basis is the best way, because it keeps people in the spotlight. Making it clear we are dealing with subjective matters. Context is king and I believe that’s the point Joran is making when he has doubts with internet collectivism.