Wednesday, 10 January 2007

What If The Community Had Created the iPhone?

A while back there was a video that went around that asked the question "what if the iPod had been designed by Microsoft". Well, if you haven't seen it, go here, it's hilarious.

I was reminded of this while reading Nick Carr's posting about Steve's devices.

In his post Carr says

"Jobs, in fact, couldn't possibly be more out of touch with today's Web 2.0 ethos, which is all about grand platforms, open systems, egalitarianism, and the erasing of the boundary between producer and consumer....It's a happening staged for an elite of one....In Jobs's world, users are users, creators are creators, and never the twain shall meet."

I saved a post by the folks who do the headrush blog. And before you say anything, I don't think that the collective is suppose to be about brilliance. So think about this question while you read their list below: "what would the iPhone have looked like and been like if it had been created by the Community? Collective intelligence, or the dumbness of the crowd?"

What's the difference between Collective Intelligence and Dumbness of Crowds? A few examples:

"Collective intelligence" is a pile of people writing Amazon book reviews.

"Dumbness of Crowds" is a pile of people collaborating on a wiki to collectively author a book.
(Not that there aren't exceptions, but that's just what they are--rare exceptions for things like reference books. I'm extremely skeptical that a group will produce even a remotely decent novel, for example. Most fiction suffers even with just two authors.)

"Collective Intelligence" is all the photos on Flickr, taken by individuals on their own, and the new ideas created from that pool of photos (and the API).

"Dumbness of Crowds" is expecting a group of people to create and edit a photo together.

"Collective Intelligence" is about getting input and ideas from many different people and perspectives.

"Dumbness of Crowds" is blindly averaging the input of many different people, and expecting a breakthrough.
(It's not always the averaging that's the problem it's the blindly part)

"Collective Intelligence" is about the community on Threadless, voting and discussing t-shirts designed by individuals.

"Dumbness of Crowds" would be expecting the Threadless community to actually design the t-shirts together as a group.

Art isn't made by committee.
Great design isn't made by consensus.
True wisdom isn't captured from a crowd.


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