Download Citation on ResearchGate | On Jan 1, , Lanier and others published Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism }. In his article “Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism” Jaron. Lanier takes a hard look at collectivism and collective action as it relates to. A cautionary inquiry into the unchecked hive mind.

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But when a collective designs a product, you get design by committee, which is a derogatory expression for a reason.

DIGITAL MAOISM: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism |

Like the Wikipedia, it adds just a little to the powers already present on the Web in order to inspire a dramatic shift in use. Travel agents had lots of soothing platitudes about why Expedia would never fly.

Here I must take a moment to comment on Linux and similar efforts. Alas, in this case there isn’t enough time, because the market conversation is slowed down by the legacy effect of existing investments. The second strikes onkine as more superficial, or at least as more time- and space-bound.

Here is a quick pass at where I think the boundary between effective collective thought maiism nonsense lies: The central problem that he sees in Wikipedia is not the experiment itself, but its rapid growth in size and importance. Each student guesses how many beans there are. Lanier has two driving concerns. However while the Wikipedia process may not be the best way to make a textbook, or create the encyclopedia of all species, or dispense the news, the Wikipedia process, with far more design in it, may be.

It also needs onljne to come up with the products that are competing in the first place. What one can easily forget is that systems are a result of human individual actions and much pondering. Then came AltaVista, where one could search using an inverted database of the content of the whole Web.


For example, leading to his summary: What is crucial to notice about modernity is that structure and constraints were part of what sped up the process of technological development, not just pure openness and concessions to the collective.

It is a great experiment, the kind of thing that is necessary when learning to use a new tool, but that does not make it the best model.

Response to Jaron Lanier’s Digital Maoism

We also have a world where the contributors have identities real or fake, but consistent and persistent and are accountable for their words. Your edges are our edges. The emergence of this type of shared policy is one of the fascinating developments in Wikipedia — and yet another way that Wikipedia can be distinguished from an automatic algorithm or mindless crowd.

Coklectivism is additive — it creates an additional resource out of the labor of those passionate users.

Article/Review: Digital Maoism, by Jaron Lanier

The ill-formed and stillborn bird is the other side onlind species creation. The centrality of TV, and indeed of any particular medium, has been in decline for three decades.

This happens on the most active Wikipedia entries, for example, and has also been seen in some speculation frenzies in open markets. That is a real service that can’t happen without some belief that there is deep value in the collective. It’s been criticized quite a lot, especially in the last year, but the Wikipedia is just one experiment that still has room to change and clllectivism.

There is a pedagogical connection between the culture of Artificial Intelligence and the strange allure of anonymous collectivism online. The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism. Anyone who claims that they have found transcendent wisdom in the pattern emerging from how people spend dogital scarce resources is a follower of Milton Friedman, not of Chairman Mao.

The items selected for the comparison were just the sort that Wikipedia would do well nea For better or worse, the Wikipedia now represents smart chaos, or bottom up power, or decentralized being, or out of control goodness, or what I seemed to have called for the lack of a better term: This article relies too much on references to primary sources.


So isn’t Lanier just knocking down a straw man?

Shirky commands wide respect within the user-generated web community, both for his authoritative writings as well as his leadership role as a speaker. It is true I made one experimental short film about a decade and a half ago. That said, there is not much to his analysis of conventional media. But if the hive mind is so dumb, why bother with it at all?

And that is part of the larger pattern of the appeal of a new online collectivism that is nothing less than a resurgence of the idea that the collective is all-wise, that it is desirable to have influence concentrated in a bottleneck that can channel the collective with the most verity and force. A core belief of the wiki world is that whatever problems exist in the wiki will be incrementally corrected as the process unfolds.

CPOV | Response to Jaron Lanier’s Digital Maoism

However, “Digital Maoism” mischaracterizes the present situation in two ways. It is important to remember how dumb the bottom is in essence.

I am now pleased to digktal the proceedings over to Clay Shirky with warm thanks from Edge for his help in organizing this project. Now it can be design and hive. This is different from representative democracy, or meritocracy.

In late I publicly criticized Wikipedia for failing to respect expertise properly, to which a surprisingly large number of people replied that, essentially, Wikipedia’s success has shown that “experts” are no longer needed, that a wide-ranging description of everyone’s opinions is more valuable than what some narrow-minded “expert” thinks.

So Wikipedia gets it wrong. Later in this essay I’ll point out what constraints make a collective smart.