Solving the Millionaire Problem, or Seeing into Networks

Two weeks ago I wrote about a presentation by Scott Page on diversity and the wisdom of crowds. One of the examples he used was the greater effectiveness of polling the studio audience versus calling a friend for an answer to a question. I suggested that a big part of this Millionaire problem is the difficulty we all have of seeing into networks, whether they belong to others or ourselves.

Over the summer I created an account on LinkedIn and played around with it for a few weeks. The initial excitement of adding people I knew from school or work soon faded and I haven’t been back to the site for a few weeks. I just wish it had a few more interesting features:

  • Make it into a distributed polling application instead of focusing on introducing people to one another. And it looks like they’ve added that feature in the “Answers” area. I guess this either shows that I’m thinking a few days ahead of the curve or that like minds run into the same problems. The “Answers” section needs an RSS feed and quick.
  • Now take it further and enable it to allow people to form teams for projects of any kind, from starting up a company to ad hoc interest groups, etc. What we need is a tool that will allow groups to form around goals in a manner that is much simpler than current project management tools. Instead of assigning tasks why can’t we volunteer for them? I envision a hybrid wiki for developing group purpose and a goal tracker for staying on track. Agile scholarship here we come.
  • Link it all up to a service like Twitter or Plazes to up the serendipity quotient.

Then all we need is some angel investor to fund a new institute a la TechStars and Bob’s your uncle.

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