Yesterday my brother posted a tweet, acknowledging that he is on 35 lists on Twitter.1 Â This got me thinking about how these lists are created, and actually made public…. and thinking once again about the notions of “Crowdsourcing” and the “The Wisdom of Crowds.”
As I understand it, Twitter added “lists” because people wanted a simple way of grouping the people they follow according to some sort of structure that made sense to them. Â Tweetdeck had added that capability through “groups” and I had even started using that feature. Â I had built groups based on my major categories of interest: Â Family. Close (real) friends. Â Local people. Educators. Â Twitter took that idea, allowed us to create lists through them, and then also offered the option to make the lists “public” and subscribe-able. Â People can see your public lists, and if they like them–follow them!
Once Twitter released that option I had actually abandoned the notion of groups and lists. Â I wasn’t so sure about what I wanted to use them for anyway. Â I have since gone back, adding a private list of just family and friends.
So here is what I am wondering as I peruse the 35 lists that have listed my brother, and the lists that have added me:
Are they all really that different? Â And if not, are they a “waste” of time?
In my lists, I see I am listed on a number of Supply Chain Management lists. Â And educator lists. Â My brother’s lists areÂ understandablyÂ predominantly discipline related, and education related. Â There are a few others, but those dominate–and that’s the point. Â There appears, on a curory look, to be significant overlap on these lists.
The concept of “Wisdom of the Crowds” and “Crowd-sourcing” is that crowds, when gathered together, make better decisions, and are more creative. Â Potentially (and grossly oversimplified). Â By building lists of people that share common interests we can see the views of others who are thinking about the same things, and get a wide range of perspectives. 2
So here are the “research questions” (or “investigative questions”) that I have:
1. Â How many groups have identical or very similar themes? (Like “supply Chain Managers”)
2. Â On similar lists, what is the membership overlap?
3. Â How much time is spent developing these similar, and perhaps redundant, lists?
4. Â Is there a better way to “share” lists, so people aren’t always reinventing the lists (and taking time to do that?)
5. Â Is there some psychological need that gets filled by creating one’s own lists, rather than followingÂ someoneÂ else’s list? Â Control? Ownership?
- Â For those that can’t find it, he wrote “Wow! I am honored. I am on 35 Twitter lists. I know that isn’t much to many of you, but I am surprised at how many!http://bit.ly/c8wEFE” ↩
- Â This does violate one of the concepts that makes crowds “wise” though–the notion that they don’t all share the same backgrounds and disciplines. ↩