"Why groupthink is the genius of the internet"

In the August 10th, 2006 issue of Financial Times [1](*), Patti Waldmeir wrote a column about a new book [2] she recently read.

In this book, Sunstein start from a 1973 citation from F. Hayek, a liberal philosopher and economist:

Each member of society can have only a small fraction of the knowledge by all and … civilisation rests on the fact that we all benefit from knowledge which we do not possess.

While Sunstein knows the potential flaws of today internet collaborative projects (wikis, blogs, etc.), he argues that “sharing scientific information online would cure some of the worst problems of the U.S. patent system and foster innovation much more efficiently than costly patent litigation”.

Before the internet, we used to look for solutions by asking family or neighbours. Now, we are looking on the internet where people genuinely wants to communicate their knowledge. Groupthinking may be “the genius of the internet”, it already was the genius of any group, with or without computers and network.

Hmmm … Anyway, this author seems interesting to read …

[1] Waldmeir, P. “Why groupthink is the genius of the internet“. Financial Times, August 10th, 2006, p. 5 (article unavailable without subscription)

[2] Sunstein, C. “Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce Knowledge“. Oxford University Press, October 2006 .

(*) I am taking advantage of a free 4-weeks subscription to the Financial Times. That’s why it’s my second post about an article published in this journal. But I don’t think I’ll subscribe: 1. I have other things to read ; 2. business and finance are not in my core business ; 3. I don’t understand half what they wrote (especially in the “Market data” and pages alike).

P.S. When you read F. Hayek’s biography on Wikipedia, this political philosopher also made an inroad in cognitive science, independently developing an alternative “Hebbian synapse” model of learning and memory. Another interesting author to read …