Posts Tagged ‘Charles Mackay’

When the net’s wisdom of crowds turns into an online lynch mob

February 28, 2010

Interesting article in The Observer today by James Harkin, author of the soon to be published Cyburbia: the Dangerous Idea That’s Changing How We Live and Who We Are. It discusses how the internet’s great advantages – speed, access and shared communication – can also have drawbacks, as Richard Dawkins found out last week. It’s not hugely surprising that James Surowiecki’s The Wisdom of Crowds meme has a flipside as the title of his book was a nod to Charles Mackay’s Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds written over 160 years earlier. Since then there’s be a whole load of other popular delusions ending in tears, not least being the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the Dotbomb. Who knows perhaps the hype surrounding Web 2.0 will in time also be seen as just another bubble, with ironically Surowiecki being one of the principle cheerleaders. (more…)