Wireless Wonders

No news, just comment about mobile phones and services, from a veteran practitioner...3G, GPRS, WAP, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc...

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Smart crowds (again)...

Still on the topic of consulting the crowd, it struck me how this is yet another example of shifting. We know of time-shifting and place-shifting through the use of mobiles, but what is going on with crowd forming?

For example, a user could be in a meeting and need to make a decision, so they consult a crowd. In other words, the discourse has shifted. At once they are talking to those at the meeting whilst consulting with those not at the meeting.

I wonder how powerful this possibility actually could be...

I remember being asked to design a mobile portal for engineers taking part in technical standards meetings. The advantage was that meeting participants could influence meeting decisions based on up-to-date information in the portal that was tracking their colleagues standards activities and company objectives.

However, the system had flaws. Sifting the information and arriving at sensible strategies for meeting decisions was difficult. Invariably, a particular expert opinion had to be sought. The problem was getting hold of the appropriate expert.

Thinking about it, I wonder if a system to allow a crowd of non-experts (but still generally informed about standards) would have paid off. Certainly, it would have required a real-time solution in order to bring influence to bear on the current meeting.

On a related point, my mind is still reeling about David's comments on using the crowd to decide on taking a child to the doctors. David was suggesting that calling the National Health Service (NHS) helpline would be more effective, particularly if it could be turned into an expert system.

What got me thinking was how we might approach the design of "expert" systems differently, if instead of relying of them for expert advice, we integrated their output into "the crowd"....Moreover, does this mean that we can design a crowd of "average" systems?

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