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The Wisdom of Crowds

Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations
Lu par : Grover Gardner
Durée : 9 h et 29 min

Prix : 26,79 €

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In this endlessly fascinating book, New Yorker columnist James Surowiecki explores a deceptively simple idea that has profound implications: large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant. Groups are better at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions, even predicting the future.

This seemingly counterintuitive notion has endless and major ramifications for how businesses operate, how knowledge is advanced, how economies are (or should be) organized, and how we live our daily lives. With seemingly boundless erudition and in delightfully clear prose, Surowiecki ranges across fields as diverse as popular culture, psychology, economic behaviorism, artificial intelligence, military history, and political theory to show just how this principle operates in the real world.

Despite the sophistication of his arguments, Surowiecki presents them in a wonderfully entertaining manner. The examples he uses are all down-to-earth, surprising, and fun to ponder. Why is the line in which you're standing always the longest? Why is it that you can buy a screw anywhere in the world and it will fit a bolt bought ten-thousand miles away? Why is network television so awful? If you had to meet someone in Paris on a specific day but had no way of contacting them, when and where would you meet? Why are there traffic jams? What's the best way to win money on a game show? Why, when you walk into a convenience store at 2:00 A.M. to buy a quart of orange juice, is it there waiting for you? What do Hollywood mafia movies have to teach us about why corporations exist?

The Wisdom of Crowds is a brilliant but accessible biography of an idea, one with important lessons for how we live our lives, select our leaders, conduct our business, and think about our world.

©2004 James Surowiecki (P)2004 Books on Tape


"Surowiecki's style is pleasantly informal, a tactical disguise for what might otherwise be rather dense material. He offers a great introduction to applied behavioral economics and game theory." ( Publishers Weekly)
"The author has a knack for translating the most algebraic of research papers into bright expository prose..." ( The New York Times Book Review)

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  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • G Barth
  • 12/06/2004

Very worthwhile listen!

This audiobook delivers what it promises and then some. James S. starts out with a provocative premise about WISE crowds (honestly, don't we think that most crowds are uninformed, crazy, act like sheep, etc...) and delivers detailed, deep examples of how, darn it, crowds ARE smart given some broad and sensible conditions. But this audiobook touches on much more than crowd psychology: economics, statistics, business, politics, science, history, sports. The range is impressive and endlessly fascinating. Good narration, extremely interesting, I have returned to parts of this audiobook more than once!

19 sur 19 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Nathan
  • 03/08/2004


A profound examination that seems to tread remarkably close to defining
a kind of sacred mathmatics for the analysis and interpretation of group dynamics. Surowieki, in his consise and readable style, aggressively upends much of what assume to be true about how we actually do behave in the "crowds" we are participants in, and, how it is that our collective reasoning has both a capacity for stunning intelligence and shocking irrationality.

11 sur 11 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • O
  • 31/08/2005

Very interesting, with a lot of good insights

I have read all the complaints, and all I can say is that, yes, sometimes it did get a bit boring. But never for long. And, in retrospect, the boring parts were difficult but necessary to explain the point the author was making. All points were valid, and everything was backed up by studies. Even when the author was just giving an anecdote, he would then back it up with a study to show relevance.

I highly recommend this book.

8 sur 8 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Roman
  • 05/06/2004

An Excellent Read !!!

Surowiecki has created a very insightful book that explores group mentality in sociological, psychological and economic areas. The anecdotal examples are interpreted in a thought-provoking, eye- opening manner that was a definite pleasure. Maybe not a "crowd pleaser" but one of the few books I'd listen to again. The narration was also very good and did not bore, even with some of the heavier subject matter. All in all - an excellent read.

41 sur 46 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Iver
  • 17/06/2004

Very solid, but tedious at times.

The writing is clear, the reading is good, the logic is unassailable, and some of the examples are very interesting. However, I felt that the book spent excessive time explaining
some conclusions that seemed very intuitive to me. I found the listening a bit tedious at times, perhaps because I have spent the last twelve years working for a large corporation that has implemented a significant number of the book's recommendations for fostering and exploiting the wisdom of crowds.

30 sur 34 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gary
  • 03/09/2013

Outdated today (2013)

The book is highly listenable but suffers greatly from events which have transpired in the years since its original publication (2005 vs. today 2013). The financial crisis and stock market crash really do poke holes in a lot of his narrative on how groups out perform individuals.

I would not recommend using a credit today for this book because it is outdated by recent events and we have evolved technologically since those days. I do like the authors main theme that groups out perform individuals but he would first need to rewrite his story to explain recent history and include recent tech innovations.

The narrator is one of my favorites and he will make it easy to listen to the whole book in spite of the anachronisms in the narrative.

5 sur 5 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Paul
  • 26/05/2005

The Wisdom of this Book is Grossly Overstated

This book is crammed with many interesting anecdotes about the behavior of markets and the average "wisdom" of groups, and some of it actually has a sound connection to the title and premise of the book. However, as I listened further into the book, I became frustrated with the tedious overexplanations that were often poorly connected to supporting the author's premise. There are some interesting anecdotes, such as "academic" studies of irrationality of investment behavior. Other examples are weak, such as an early anecdote about a crowd guessing the dressed weight of a cow. The author claims that the accuracy of the group's average guess demonstrates the crowd is "smarter" more consistently than any "expert", but this ignores the likelihood that inexpert guesses will tend to cancel each other out and then we're left with whether the result of the "crowd" really boils down to simply averaging the guesses of a handful of experts. Many examples in the book simply demonstrate the type of statistical distribution one might encounter in any group, rather than providing insight into "wisdom" of the crowd.

The best portions of the book deal with the author's categories of group decisions, and some of the pitfalls of small group decision-making. A few suggestions were given for avoiding or minimizing the impact of these pitfalls in small groups, though the treatment was so brief it bordered on being superficial. Still... we're introduced to some interesting ideas on this topic.

The narrator did an adequate job, and generally made the book easier to listen to despite the tedious nature of the author's descriptions.

This book may be worth a listen just for the interesting anecdotes, especially if you have little background with group decision-making, economics, markets, and basic statistical principles.

17 sur 19 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Peter
  • 20/07/2004

Good theories, too long

The books core theories and ideas where interesting, however it could easily have been halved in length. The examples are intresting in there own right, but I thought they got off the topic at times. Overall a good insight into crowds and crowd think, but you could listen to the first 1/2 hour and have most of the ideas in the book.
Also the sample track is not the same voice as the whole book, just the introduction.

8 sur 9 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Jean Le Lupi
  • 09/12/2004

One sided point of view

The author is really in love with his premises of crowds being smarter than the smartest, qualified individuals. I was skeptical and happy to explore his findings. The disappointment came when all he had to offer was evidence to his thesis. It is great that a crowd can guess almost correctly a number of pebbles in a jar. But let?s not forget that a crowd also voted Hitler into power and supported him for years, with destructive results for that very crowd. French followed Napoleon to Russia with destructive results. The ?Crowd? supported the Russian Communist revolution that resulted in the famine of the 1920 where 20 Million people died?
To me the wisdom of crowds is still elusive. The author does not seem to touch on any of these examples, and the small scale experiments with students guessing a variable are just not raising to the word ?wisdom? for me.
Try it on, is a good exercise.

12 sur 14 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Kaeli
  • 13/01/2008

Could have been better

This book started off great. But eventually, his examples got too random. I kept checking my mp3 player to make sure it wasn't on random. On the plus side, this book does an excellent job of explaining when groupthink is a good thing, rather than just painting everything with a broad brush.

3 sur 3 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.