TED Conversations

Raja Choudhury

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Does crowd-sourcing Innovation and ideas encourage real Innovation or a culture of collective mediocriity, focus groups and slick presenters

Being a closet libertarian in the mold of Ayn Rand's hero Howard Roark (yes, I studied Architecture as well), I can't help but fear the words crowd-sourcing, collective consciousness, etc. I spent many years designing websites and multimedia campaigns based on the feedback of focus groups and I can tell you nothing really creative came out of that. The most real innovation came out enlightened clients willing to take risks, innovative collaborations between a variety of disciplines and the leadership of talented designers and thinkers.The core ideas need innovators and then the crowd can participate in building. The original Freedom Tower at WTC was unique and amazing (Liebskind) but the new one looks just like another boring skyscraper anywhere. Why? The collective. Once a great idea is formulated and tested by an individual or small team funded by innovative funds then it can be spread by or further funded by or exploited by the Crowd. Anything else will be mediocre or just satisfying a perceived public demand. As Elsworth Toohey, the greatest advocate of collective consiousness in literature, says in the Fountainhead: "Artistic value is achieved collectively by each man subordinating himself to the standards of the majority. " - Ouch - this is not the world I want to live in. Thoughts?


Closing Statement from Raja Choudhury

Platforms like TED, Edge, Kickstarter, Rockethub and Indiegogo are essential for sharing great ideas and drawing together collaborations and investments that may not have existed before. But someone or a small team has to have a great idea first and we must nurture the individual (introverted) designer/researcher/thinker/philosopher/author/scientist from an early age by also giving them a world where both the individual creative and the crowd can co-exist in a complementary way.

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  • Aug 15 2012: Hi Raja

    I watched Susan Cain's idea today and found her points sensible indeed. She mentions that people develop deeper thoughts when in solitude (Aristotle, Gandhi etc). I find that group activity is important to get people engaged in the idea, somewhat a secondary step.

    I think it's very difficult to convey ideas/ visions etc in a collective manner. I think that the level of engagement decreases with the increased size of crowd and hence collective could be mediocre. I like what David said, 'trying to save society that is completely incapable of saving itself'.

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