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”

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