The wisdom of crowds ..

Considering my interest in extending the concept of tagging to the mobile telecoms space – see I am a tag – not a number,

Andrey Gidaspov emailed me these two articles about the social aspects of tagging by Rashmi Sinha

I found them great reading and have included the links here

A cognitive analysis of tagging (or how the lower cognitive cost of tagging makes it popular)


A social analysis of tagging

(or how tagging transforms the solitary browsing experience into a social one)

I especially find the second article interesting since it tackles an issue we are concerned with regarding the wisdom of crowds

As per the article:

Starting with Le Bon’s analysis in 1895, psychologists have focused on the negative aspects of crowd behaviour. Recently James Suroweicki has refuted this notion. His elegant analysis of four conditions that can lead to “wisdom of crowds” seems relevant for tagging systems. The four principles are (1) diversity of opinion – each individual brings their idiosyncratic perspective to bear on the issue. (this is definitely true for tagging. There is a long tail of tags). (2) independence of members from one another (that people make independent decisions. This is why mass copying of others’ tags is not a good idea.) (3) decentralization (with tagging power does not reside in a central location, but it does seem to very influenced by the first few taggers..) (4) a good method for aggregating opinions (Tag clouds and simple lists seem to work well for this, though better methods are needed.

I am exploring these ideas along with our concept of I am a tag and not a number. In our view of extending tags on to mobile devices and telecoms

a) A search engine would take the place of a directory

b) That search engine would be ‘tag based’

c) The search engine would be dynamic since tags will provide up-to-date information

d) The search engine would provide an abstraction for communications methods i.e. would map the individual to all the known ‘numbers’ for that individual and would provide the best way to ‘reach’ that individual using one of the numbers

e) The search engine would benefit from the wisdom of crowds i.e. other people tagging about me

The question of identity and the authenticity of that identity remains .. and hence my interest in these articles. More on this soon