Poking a Stick Into The ‘Hive Mind’ [Newsweek]

Poking a Stick Into The 'Hive Mind' - Illustration by Greg Mably for Newsweek
“To Jaron Lanier, the ‘wisdom of crowds’ delivers a reflection of the lowest common denominator”, writes Steven Levy in his Newsweek column.

Jaron Lanier [has become the] dyspeptic critic of the surging trend of digital collectivism, an ethic that celebrates and exploits the ability of the Web to aggregate the preferences and behaviors of millions of people.”

“In a recent essay posted on the Web site Edge.org, Lanier disparages the recent spate of efforts that rely on conscious collaboration (like the anyone-can-participate online reference work Wikipedia) or passive polling (the so-called meta sites like Digg, which draw on user response to rank news articles and blog postings).

“To Lanier, these represent an alarming decision—rejecting individual expression and creativity to become part of a faceless mob. To emphasize the enormity of this movement, Lanier titled his essay with a fearsome moniker: ‘Digital Maoism’.”

“The result, says Lanier, is often a mundane reflection of the lowest common denominator, an inevitable consequence of the “stupid and boring” hive mind. Not surprisingly, the targets of his criticism are crying foul.”

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