Crowds revisited: How the Wisdom of the Crowds is related to the Wisdom of the Language — and also the Open Web

I usually point out how the Wisdom of the Language is different than the Wisdom of the Crowds, but it is also important to underscore how they are related.

English is a global language because a lot of people can speak it. All global languages are spoken by many people — and it is these crowds of people make these languages significant. It is actually a type of “network effect”: the ability to communicate in a language that is used by many people make the language more attractive than a language that is spoken by fewer people.

A similar network effect exists in trading markets: A market that enables trading between more people is preferable to a market in which less people are trading. To some degree, this is fundamental principle behind the thinking that motivates people to trust “dot com” domain names — they figure that since so many dot com domain names are registered, domain names like weather.com or homes.com are reliable sources of information about weather and/or homes. And even here the principle of the Wisdom of the Crowds also applies to the Wisdom of the Language… because “weather” and “homes” are more widely used (and widely known — in essence, more widespread) concepts than, say, “physics”, we can trust “weather” and “homes” domains more than we can trust “physics” domains.

Yet on a more advanced level, online literacy requires us to also know who/what is behind each of these names (whether that is a person or an organization, what their “motives” are, etc.), and we also need to gauge to what degree these people / organizations deserve our trust, or whether they ought to be relatively distrusted.

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