The Power of Us

kinnon —  June 12, 2005 — Leave a comment

Business Week has a very interesting article on the Power of Us:

Exclaims Amazon CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos: "You invite the community in, and you get all this help."

It’s surprisingly good help, too. New research indicates that cooperation, often organized from the bottom up, plays a much greater role than we thought in everything from natural phenomena like ant colonies to human institutions such as markets and cities. It’s what New Yorker writer James Surowiecki, in his illuminating 2004 book of the same name, calls "the wisdom of crowds." Crowds can go mad, of course, but by and large, it turns out, they’re smarter at solving many problems than even the brightest individuals.

The Internet’s supreme group-forming capability suggests the rise of an almost spooky group intelligence. Within minutes of Pope John Paul II’s death, hundreds of eBay sellers had posted related products for sale. Whether it is responding to world events or new products such as Sony Corp.’s (SNE ) PSP game machine, eBay’s hive mind reacts to shifts in demand much faster than traditional companies with layers of management approval. Although eBay recently has seen some mature markets in the U.S. and Germany slow, the group smarts have helped keep growth more than respectable, with gross merchandise sales this year expected to rise 32%, to $45 billion. As eBay CEO Margaret C. Whitman has noted: "It is far better to have an army of a million than a command-and-control system."

Read it here. Hat tip – Many to Many.



A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

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