Social Networking & The Wisdom of Crowds

Leaving class last week, I was surprised to learn that there are over 200 social networking sites that exist.   I would have to say that my two favorite sites were bookmooch and kiva, especially kiva because of how you are changing and affecting other peoples lives!  I was telling my friends and family about these amazing sites, and came across another social networking site called baby plays, a site that rents out children’s toys.  You can rent the toys for a month or a year; they are tested and checked for safety…what a fabulous idea!   Thinking about social networking and the exchange of different, goods and services over the web, James Surowiecki brings up an interesting point in Wisdom of the Crowds regarding cooperation and trust.   Why are we willing to trust and cooperate with those we don’t know?   When you think of the word Trust, you associate at that word with people and qualities like honesty and integrity.  You have a history with people or businesses that you trust.  However, when you think of social networking and our everyday interaction with people and business on the web, we have quickly given our trust to a world of strangers.  As Surowiecki says, “We make donations to charity, buy things of eBaysight unseen, people sign onto Kazaa and upload songs for others to download, giving access to their computers’ hard drives.  These are all, in the strict sense, irrational things to do.  But they make us all better off.”    He concludes to say that in the end a good society is defined more by how people treat strangers than by how they treat those they know.  Is this because the benefits to us outweigh the harm and liabilities?

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