Daily Archives:September 18th, 2006

The Wisdom of Crowds

Book cover
My holiday reading was James Surowiecki’s The Wisdom of Crowds. A splendid tome.

There’s a standard pattern for a lot of trendy business books these days. You come up with one basic idea. You explain it in the 30-page introductory chapter, which is all that most execs will get around to reading. And then you repeat the idea with different examples for the remaining chapters, until you have enough pages for a publisher to be able to sell the early versions in hardback to people with good expense accounts.

The Wisdom of Crowds doesn’t really fall into this mould. Yes, there’s a single simple idea here, but throughout the book Surowiecki expands it, contradicts it, explores it from other angles and tries to work out when it is and isn’t valid to a greater degree than I’ve seen in most other similar recent works. He also writes rather well, which makes the whole process more enjoyable. Recommended.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser