Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Wisdom of Crowds Analysis – Part 2

An investor should act as though he had a lifetime decision card with just twenty punches on it.” – Warren Buffet

Although I often employ the advice of crowds when it comes to product recommendations, when it comes to more personal matters of life decisions, I do not turn to crowds as often. Although I may sometimes gather their opinions on matters, I do not hold their comments with the same weight as I do my own thoughts, and the ones of those around me. When I am forced to make a major decision or deal with a dilemma, I like to act on my own thoughts and judgment, and not have anyone decide how to act for me. If I feel that I need a second opinion or advice, I have friends and family to turn to that would know me better than a horde of anonymous individuals. Purchasing products is one thing, life-altering decisions is another thing entirely.

Although I would find myself unlikely to ask such questions to an advice columnist or crowd, if I had to I would probably go with the crowd. Although there is a chance that I would get some bad or downright strange advice from some individuals, I feel as though I would benefit more from the sheer range of talent and experience offered by a group of people over that of just one.

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Wisdom of Crowds Analysis – Part 1

“Two heads are better than one.” – Unknown

One of the rising internet practices of today’s society involves the use of crowdsourcing, in other words asking a mass of people for their opinions on a certain task or developing product line. To me, this sounds like a great idea. By gathering together a large group of like-minded people, previously ambitious tasks of data collecting idea development can be made much more easily and quickly. These tasks can be completed in less time, and with an increased spread of resources (such as time) that do not severely inhibit too many people. Plus, with many crowdsourcing sites under strict moderation of individuals examining flukes in what the crowd says, I find it unlikely that there will be any serious cases of data tampering

In regards to my own experience with crowdsourcing, I have found myself using it on a few occasions in regards to product reviews at sites such as Amazon.com. When you attempt to purchase something on the internet that looks cool and interesting, how can you be sure it is going to work? That’s where people and crowdsourcing come into play. Recently I was looking for a new book light for reading in the dark, and decided to try using the internet to find one. Amazon displayed several interesting possibilities, but how could I be sure they would work? With the wisdom of crowds, and the reviews they leave behind, I was able to find a highly recommended book light. Will it work? I’ll find out when I get it. 🙂

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A Classic Print vs. Television Debate

The debate between Neil Postman and Camille Paglia displays a classic argument between the ideals of print and television. Yet the debate goes beyond a mere clash between these two mediums. While the discussion of the mediums took the forefront, the arguments presented were done by two different people living in two different times. Although there is only a small gaps in years between Postman and Paglia, the rapidly changing times that separate them contain a battle between traditional and modern cultures. Both debaters present a valid case, yet in the end Paglia clearly wins over Postman; her wide variety of techniques winning over the narrow viewpoint of Postman.

Although both debaters begin on fairly equal ground, it is when the baked sea urchin is served that Paglia forces Postman to go on the defensive. The introduction to the article “Two Cultures – Television versus Print” points out that Paglia’s approach employs “a rush of images, juxtapositions, and verbal jump cuts.” Paglia clearly displays her versatile skill by jumping from dancers and education, to an attack on what she believes to be a narrow-minded view that Postman’s generation holds:

“I’ve found that most people born before World War II are turned off by themodern media. They can’t understand how we who were born after the war canread a book and watch TV at the same time. But we can.”

After Paglia’s sudden offense, Postman attempts to adopt a similar strategy by debunking television and claiming it to be pointless in aspects such as advertising. Unfortunately for Postman this only plays directly into Paglia’s versatility. Paglia enters into long sweeping monologues in which she dances between ideas and throws multiple examples that counter Postman’s narrow-minded ideas on Television. She continues this into the seared scallops section, with her brilliant wordplay and constant of ideas and images with Postman quickly reduced to a mere spectator.

Postman does manage to regain some ground shortly thereafter with a comment about the absurd nature of Charlie’s Angels:

“At the end, they shoehorn in a vestigial narrative. Once I saw an episode in which, in order to explain everything, the voice at the end had to mention characters and action that hadn’t even been in the program…Those sixty secondsbefore the credits – when the show was actually already over – were meant to givea show about hair a sense of sense of logic or coherence.”

Yet even after this great point, Paglia manages to twist it into something positive. She points out that this idea of hair has had a lasting impact on society.

Paglia’s barrage of examples and images continues through the rest of the debate, and Postman is simple unable to keep up with this new line of reasoning. Postman’s archaic views on society simply cannot hold a candle to the changing face of media that Paglia represents. Although the printed word will likely remain an influential media for some time to come, Paglia’s ideas of a flood of images through the television medium often holds a greater impact on the more recent generations.

Works Cited:

Paglia, Camille and Neil Postman. “Two Cultures – Television versus Print.” Communication in History. Comp. David Crowley and Paul Heyer. New York: Pearson Education Inc., 2007.

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