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Is there "Wisdom" in crowds?

Kathy Sierra, who publishes the amazing Creating Passionate Users blog never ceases to impress us with her insights. In a recent post entitled The Dumbness of Crowds, Kathy questions the merits of today’s emphasis on collaboration and consensus:

Is it merely a coincidence that Apple, run by (as James Gosling put it) “a dictator with good taste” leads the way in tech design, while risk-averse companies using design-by-committee (or consensus) are churning out bland, me-too, incremental tweaks to existing products?

Kathy makes a distinction between “Collective Intelligence” and the “Dumbness of Crowds,” and, as always, illustrates her point with a graphic that says a million words.

Somehow, Kathy always manages to find the perfect way to illustrate her point. The visualisation of ideas is one of the things we love about her blog.

It’s a fairly long post, but well worth the read. If you don’t have the time to read it, allow me to quote and summarise:

  1. Art isn’t made by committee.
  2. Great design isn’t made by consensus.
  3. True wisdom isn’t captured from a crowd.