Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Wisdom of Crowds vs. The Masses Are Asses

I've been thinking this one over for months and have yet to make the time to post it. So, coming soon, and actual essay on the above title!

I may add snarky comments such as, "If you (the masses) are so smart, how come [Survivor's still on, Britney gets more ink than Iraq, nobody cares we lost habeus corpus, {add your own carp here}, and so on].

Or maybe not.

Anyway, the gist is, it's fairly universally accepted among the Web 2.0 intelligensia and hype mavens everywhere that crowdsourcing and other applications of the wise crowd are a wonderful way to guess the number of gumballs in the jar.

OK, if that's so, explain to me the lyrics to Living in the USA, Steve Miller's great anthem as posted on pretty much every Internet lyrics site. You see, they're wrong. Yep, Stevie "Guitar" Miller is not saying "Come on try it, you can buy it, you can leave it next week, yeah" as all those peer edited and reviewed sites claim (although he is saying " Somebody give me a cheeseburger" -- this cannot be disputed). Steve was quoting Chuck Berry's Too Much Monkey Business, which at least one site GETS COMPLETELY WRONG. Yet, strangely, the same site, LyricsFreak, gets the lyric write on the Beatles' version of the song.

In fact, to belabor a Steve Miller lyrics point ad nauseum, you'd think if the crowd were so dang smart, someone would be able to figure out the phrase Steve sings in the middle of the chorus in the classic she-done-me-wrong blues, Junior Saw It Happen, which is rendered pretty much everywhere as:

Junior saw it happen
Why didn't I listen to you, hey
Whoa, ohh
Whoa, {??}
Whoa, ohh
Whoa, now she's down the tracks with him

Now to me it sounds like something about "she had her hat on back", or something that sounds like back, and that would rhyme with "tracks" in the last line of the chorus.

We got wise crowds that figured out the moon landing was fake and that Oswald didn't act alone, and that Steve Miller misheard the singer of the Medallions (it wasn't pompitous, but puppetuse) but no crowd has ever figured out whether the hat was on her back, or whatever it was Steve said.

So this future blog post will go on to brilliantly compare and contract the wisdom/asses crowd dichotomy. But not today.

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