Monday, December 06, 2004

CROWDS: Madness or Intelligence?

"Men, it has been well said, think in herds. It will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by on."

Charles Mackay (1841) in Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

"In crowds it is stupidity and not mother wit that is accumulated……[crowds] can never accomplish acts demanding a high degree of intelligence …..[they] are always intellectually inferior to the insolated individual."

Gustave Le Bon (1895) in The Crowd: A study of the Popular Mind

Am fascinated with crowds' intelligence. Read the book 'The Wisdom of Crowd' and wrote a review on it. Feel free to comment

Sunday, October 03, 2004

The Sphere: Where is Our Fundamental Belief?

Heated discussion broke out in the class about the diminishing of the public sphere of information, based on Buschman’s analysis in ‘Dismantling the Public Sphere’, which reveals that a significant shift has occurred from the library as a contributor to the public good to a model where economics dictate.

Everything is becoming cost-sensitive, including information or knowledge. ‘Democracy’ of information is eroding. You’ve got to pay for information that you want. Very interestingly, at about the same time, I was requested by the client to look for FREE online full-text articles. That made me wonder: in what circumstances, do people really pay for information? Or to put it more accurately, how many of us are willing to pay libraries for information?

Recently, I spoke to a library member who used to have a personal subscription to a professional journal (I must say it is THE publication for her field). But she ceased the subscription because it was just too costly. Would it reach a point that this phenomenon becomes a vicious cycle? Nobody pays for the information => High cost of information => Nobody pays for the information = even higher cost of information. How can we then protect the democracy of information??

Thursday, August 05, 2004

mEnTaL mODeLs

I’ve been thinking about mental models. Heard about this concept from Peter Senge’s ‘The Fifth Discipline’ from a workshop I attended 2 years ago and now actually ‘studying’ them in one of my modules in my masters programme.

Mental models are basically the way we think about things. They have been studied in the psychology domain, specifically in the theory of thinking and reasoning. Our past experiences play a significant role in forming our mental models, correctly or incorrectly. They are useful to understand why two persons may look at the same thing, but see them differently.

I wonder whether mental models can shed new light on understanding how users organize information. Am also looking into taxonomy currently.

Here is the video clip shown by the Prof. on mental models. Quite cool.