Friday, August 17, 2007

The wisdom of crowds: A simple test

Like many at this time of year, I'm off for a short break. I'll be offering the very briefest of updates via the twitter feed you'll find on the left column of the blog, but that'll be pretty much it until August 28.

I've asked my FaceBook friends to guess how many emails will be in my emap inbox on my return from a nine-day break from the office.

Guesses ranged from 7 to 900.
The average - if you include the '7' guess is 379. If you discount the '7' you get 410.

None of those taking part 'knows' my daily average.

The theory goes that the actual result should be closer to the group average than the vast majority of individual guesses. You can read more about the theory here in an excerpt from The Wisdom of Crowds.

I'll share the result first thing on the 28th! (now then - no trying to skew the results please!!)

Accepting the power in crowd-sourcing is nothing new, of course. What are the world's money markets if they aren't the average of best guesses?

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?