In the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad a nice interview today with sociologist Albert Benschop (editor of Sociosite), online journalist Francisco van Jole, and me about our view on the claims of Jaron Lanier, who suggests that the much-lauded collective intelligence or use of crowdsourcing online inevitably will give way to a dehumanized, faceless and lowest common denominator Internet. All of us disagree, for various reasons.
Albert suggests that collective intelligence does not produce uniform outcomes, but must rather be seen as a mechanism that (self-) corrects and polices what is out there.
Van Jole feels Lanier overestimates the nature and impact of 'the collective', arguing that most work in social software-driven environments is actually done by few people.
In this company I seem to be less practical in my view: I point out that whatever you find in Web 2.0 applications, it is quite impossible to argue that it is all the same. In fact, individual voices are uniquely represented online.
Furthermore: the reliability of contributors to, let's say, Wikipedia or a citizen journalism site is not necessarily compromised by the fact that they remain anonymous. Indeed: anonymity for some may be the essential condition in order to be able to speak the truth...
I guess we are all a bit right.