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User Review  - mortensengarth - LibraryThing

influential in developing thought. tidbits from many of my books on networks, free agent capitalism, statistics, math. this is a favorite among many well read that i know. Read full review

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informative and well-written, this book examines the peculiar ability of a large group of people to arrive at answers as good as even better than the average and almost as good as the best among them. this characteristic is what makes markets work - when they do. surowiecki makes a stab at the essentials that govern what kind of problems a "crowd" as suited to solve, and the makeup of a "crowd" that seems to give the best results. three general classes of problems suited to crowds are identified: cognition, coordination and cooperation problems. the factors driving solution are identified as diversity, independence, decentralization and a means by which collective wisdom can be aggregated. surowiecki draws primarily from behavioural economics and psychology to support his claims.
the first half of the book keeps to the theory while the second half deals with an interesting range of applications: traffic, scientific research (issues with competition and collaboration), small group dynamics (committees, the phenomena of group think), the oddity of the company (ronald coase's transaction costs, organizational pathologies), financial markets (the phenomena of herd mentality) and democracy. the chapters on small groups, the company and markets were particularly insightful.
 


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