Do this simple thought experiment[edit | edit source]

Imagine you are in a locked room alone trying to solve a problem you are familiar with -- it can be anything from a crossword puzzle, to the design of a water pump to an analytical solution to the physics three body problem. Consider how difficult the problem is for you to solve and how long it would take you to solve it. Now imagine that you could fill the room with people like you working on the same problem. Do you get to the solution faster? Do you get to a better solution? Now imagine you had billions of people all working together with you to solve the problem. Perhaps they aren't in a physical room - but a virtual room on the Internet. Chances are your solution is even better and faster. This is the power of open source.

Learning from "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire"[edit | edit source]

But as James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of CrowdsW, pointed out, Millionaire is a great examples of the power of group intelligence. Contestants win by correctly answering a series of increasingly difficult trivia questions. When stumped, they have three options:

  1. eliminate half the possible answers,
  2. call a friend or expert for help
  3. poll the audience for their opinion.

Which is the most effective? The poll is the most effective choice by far. Choices 1 and 2 gave the right answer only 65 percent of the time, the TV show's audience delivered the right answer over 90 percent of the time. The data from Millionaire suggest that the best way to get a reliable answer – to a trivia question, at least – is simply to ask a group of people who are wrestling with the same question. But does the same approach work with other kinds of problems? Yes it does.[1]

See also[edit | edit source]