When I wrote a recent post, “Why Artists Should Blog“, I left out a very important point: the value of the community’s collective knowledge and feedback. Perhaps this was obvious, but it struck home with me tonight as I was honored with the “Director’s Choice Award Purchase Prize” for my painting Moraine Park Sunset, after dozens of artists during the week helped me select the best of my work for the Estes Park Plein Air Competition. Thank you! I know that your feedback, encouragement and tips helped make it possible.

The value of community feedback–which as artists we realize in the form of group critiques–reminded me of a recent presentation I attended at a blogging conference, in which the speaker spoke about the value of blogs as a means to achieve goals. The “Wisdom of Crowds” idea is so prominent, it has it’s own Wikipedia entry. I find the idea interesting, especially since my take on the wisdom of crowds is the opposite (sorry, but it lead to the election of US President George W. Bush…which I guess means the “wisdom of crowds” is not consistent). The idea was written about by Sir Francis Galton (co-incidentally, a half-cousin of Charles Darwin and inventor of the silent dog whistle!). According to Wikipedia,

“The opening anecdote [to the book, The Wisdom of Crowds] relates Francis Galton‘s surprise that the crowd at a county fair accurately guessed the weight of an ox when their individual guesses were averaged (the average was closer to the ox’s true weight than the estimates of most crowd members, and also closer than any of the separate estimates made by cattle experts).”

Good examples of how this principle is applied in blogging include a) the blogging network 43Things, a really wonderful site where you submit your life’s goals and share ideas and progress with others with like goals; and b) Yahoo! Answers, an increasingly popular site where you can submit a question, get answers and have the “wisdom of crowds” vote on the best answer.

For example, in Yahoo! Answers, someone asks “Who is USA’s best fine art painter?” and with 12 answers (to date) the crowd votes on the following, paraphrasing, “This is not a question to which there can be any answer. There are only opinions.” Decent answer, don’t you think? In 43Things, 117 people to date are subscribed to the goal “become a better artist“. Audrey Farber is one, and she wrote recently, “Enough with the snobbishness about community colleges. Art classes are all what you put into it. I just completed a semester of Life Drawing & feel like I’m on my way…“.

So, in the end, having won the highest award tonight yet in my art career, I’m indebted to you and await the opportunity to return the favor! Just ask!

11 thoughts on “The Wisdom of “My Crowd”

  1. Congratulations, Ed; it’s a terrific painting and it well deserves an award. Another aspect of the “wisdom of the crowd” is commitment through participation. People who can interact with an idea/person/painting/etc are by definition more involved with it and committed to it. The ArtBizBlog has some interesting observations about this.

  2. WOW!!! Congrats to you!
    I am so glad to hear you won for this piece because it is truly a wonderful painting and has a emotional quality that draws you in and elevates it above just technical skill. Maybe judges have a collective intelligence too!!
    Janette Jones

  3. Congratulations Ed! When I read you were going to swap this one out of the competition I thought “no no – don’t do it” – I see you changed your mind. It is a wonderful painting and a well deserved award.

  4. Congratulations Ed!
    It is a very interesting thought, the wisdom of crowds, but I think the real benefits only come to the community that shares it’s wisdom. It’s the opposite of too many cooks spoil the broth. So many sharing wisdom changes wisdom into common sense. Then it you stir it up and begin again.
    Imagine if the great masters of painting never shared their thoughts or knowledge or if a neighbor who loved painting never shared the joy of painting with a child.
    Thanks for sharing so much Ed.

  5. Thanks again to all of your for your enthusiastic support and encouragement! It’s been a wonderful week. We have a three day weekend coming up here in the US, so I hope to get some plein air work, or perhaps even studio work. I have some wonderful refernece photos from Colorado ready to go!

  6. Congratulations! The colors in that painting really draw me in. They have a richness and glow to them. I recently won a 2nd place award in my first competition and want to thank you for your blog. Following your career, tips and advice has helped me out greatly. Wish you all the luck.
    Great job!

  7. Ed,
    I can’t remember how I found your blog, but I guess it pays to surf. Hven’t had time to read it all, but you’re in my favorites lists so I’ll get back

    Great work…#10 was my favorite I know it’s to late to choose,,I’ll check back and see the results. You have a great Van Gogh quality about your work.

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