28 May 2008

Crowd vs. Committee

I just found this in an old notebook. Apparently I wrote it a couple years ago. Most of it seems to make more sense to me now.

Wisdom of Crowds Design by Committee
Both: Participants may be biased.
Bias averages out Bias creates “riders”
Not much work Lots of work
No consensus required Seeks consensus. Decisions may be postponed to avoid stirring up trouble.
Minority (“special”) interests can be publicised but are often ignored Minority interests are not ignored
No experts—skepticism (Presumption is that a random individual is not an expert.) All experts—openness
Lossy, mass communication (of arguments, etc.) Tedious explicit communication
Both: No overarching design or uniting vision.
Nobody cares Possibly competing visions
Simple output. Unbounded complexity in output.
Immediate feedback. Long-term, invisible feedback.
Individuals have low individual impact. Individuals are influential.
Neglecting the topic somehow doesn't matter. Neglect causes warts (that is, areas where the design is painfully bad —ed.)
Product needn't be understood (markets) Product is ideas.
Mechanism for approaching a good result exists (market; averaging) Democracy (voting) and consensus are the only such mechanisms.
Interfaces are well-defined before work starts (ballot; prices) Interfaces have to be designed.
Individuals can't introduce bureaucracy Individuals sometimes manage to introduce bureaucracy

23 May 2008


J was writing his sister A's name for her on a piece of construction paper. J is 4 years old and A is 2, and somebody recently taught J that he can decorate his letters with outrageous curlicues. So J says, “Do you want me to put curlicues on it?” And A replies, in her tiny stern voice, “There are no Qs in my name!”

10 May 2008

Firefox 3

Firefox 3 is nearing release. Check out what's new, especially the Awesomebar, which has changed my life.

(Awesomebar itself is the work of superhacker Ed Lee, but it relies on Places, the new bookmarks and history system, 2+ years in the making.)

If you're interested in security, especially the difficulty of giving users correct, actionable security-related info at a glance, read about Firefox's new site identification and malicious site detection features.