The Brain Behind Del.icio.us

by Andy Polaine on September 26, 2006

in General

I’m not sure how old this interview with Joshua Schachter, inventor of del.icio.us, is but it’s a fascinating insight into the Wisdom of Crowds. It therefore comes as no surprise that the interview is by Wisdom of Crowds author, James Surowiecki.

Having spent time working on building up several communities, often in an educational context there is such a valuable lesson to be learned by making people’s essentially selfish natures to work for the common good. Says Schachter:

“Im not a big believer in expecting a large number of people to act in an altruistic fashion. You want to rely on people to do what they do.”

There are lessons for education here too, which tends to suffer from the fact that more students = more money but also a worse product (i.e., learning experience) because of the way education is currently structured. There are plenty of situations, communities in particular, where more people make things more powerful:

Schachter has already shown that out of the seeming chaos of hundreds of thousands of independent and eccentric judgments, order and wisdom can emerge. And if you think about del.icio.us in terms of his idea of making memory scalable, he’s also helped create a rather remarkable social memory system, in which all of us are able to find more and better information than we would on our own. As Schachter puts it, “The one who stashes a page doesn’t have to be the one who ends up recalling it. Del.icio.us is a storer of one’s own attention. But it also means you can share it with others.” And that ability will only become more valuable over time. “The better you understand the world, the better you’ll do.”

(Thanks for the original link via Pat Kane at Play Journal )

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