We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Crowd intelligence vs Expert intelligence

Out of my recent travels with my brother in a rented car arrived lot of scenic photographs. At least for last 4-5 years, I have not done so much extensive outdoor travel that I did in last 1 month. A friend suggested to put these photos on www.500px.com than flickr, so I tried it. 

(The link for photographs is here) www.flickr.com/mrunalg

500px is a market place for photographers where fellow photographers decide on the quality of photographs by rating it, and the algorithms decide whether a photograph is worthy enough to be moved up in the ranks so that after a while it could be put on the stock photography market place to sell. This model is more like the Reality TV show setup, where audience decides whether a particular singer is good and vote for him. More votes decides the champion along with a few other factors. 
So 500px essentially brings this aspect of reality TV kind of voting in the online photography world to decide the best photographs. 

I decided to test their algorithms and how good the overall setup is, so I experimented by putting in different kinds of photographs hoping to see how they get rated etc. I was quite disappointed with the overall results at how even the best of the photographs might not appeal to crowd. And how the entire logic works on how well you connected are, how many people in your network view the photographs etc. So the crux to mention is, the popularity has nothing to do with the quality of the photo. I have had similar problems with the occasional viewing of the reality show setups where many times the singers I feel are great, never win. So that made me think would the setup be good if only experts were judging the photographs?

I submitted some of the photos to high quality stock photography sites such as www.shutterclock.com. These photos were out right rejected saying they lack correct exposure, lack of focus, noise, lens artifacts etc. 

I then thought of another process to review the submitted material the way it occurs in the academic publishing world where peer reviewing is the norm to get research published. Depending on the quality of the conference / journal you are trying to publish in the reviews could get so nasty and critical that many times one feels like giving up. Writing is a very interpretation oriented skill. People look at it from their own biases, expectations etc. So chances of getting an article in, in a top publication through reviewers is even more tough. 

So now we have seen the two extreme sides of getting your work to the forefront. Crowd intelligence vs Expert intelligence. And both have its drawbacks and advantages. 

The most interesting question in this aspect then becomes how to combine the two in a kind of hybrid way so that the best of both the world could be obtained. And this is a tough question. The beauty of Internet is it has democratized the way information gets accessed. So now crowds can have their say in choosing the outstanding work unlike the earlier times, when only a few elite experts were allowed to do that. But there should also be a way to let the two modes integrate, so that we see the best possible outcome, because some times crowds might not be able to judge perfectly, and some times, the experts might be too harsh. 

Balance is the crux of everything and it needs to be present in the world of Technology too. 

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