November 30, 2005

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Book review: The Wisdom of Crowds

The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki

This book follows the pattern established by Malcolm Gladwell with The Tipping Point and Blink - take a collection of interesting studies and anecdotes and put them together into a vaguely scientific sounding extended essay. These are what I call "Chinese meal" books - you read them voraciously but finish feeling somehow empty. Wisdom of Crowds is a well written book, as you would expect from a journalist. The basic thesis is simple: crowds often get things right. He gives example after example, and keeps coming back to markets as the ultimate expression of collective wisdom. It's sugar coated Hayek for the masses. It is no lesser a book for that, and is certainly worth a read. At times the "gee-whiz" factor gets a bit much and the book isn't likely to shake your world view, but compared to the cr@p that's on TV these days it makes an enjoyable alternative.

I fully intend to send a copy to Donald Tsang for Christmas.

posted by Simon on 11.30.05 at 09:37 AM in the Reviews category.


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