The Wisdom of Crowds is Legitimate

Queen Elizabeth

What is “Legitimacy”? How can you know something is legitimate? Can one thing be more legitimate than another? Can we establish a hierarchy of legitimacy, trust even? Perhaps legitimacy is circumstantial?

Legitimacy is often established because of predictability. Monarchs are not perfect but people knew what they were getting: Monarchs are more stable than local warlords and people understood the social order they represented. Actuaries are not perfect but we understand their motivations: Actuary’s predictions are stable through study and expertise, and we understand the insurance markets they support.

Do you have common interests? Is there legitimacy in an authority with whom you share no common interest? Yes, Actuaries are generally considered legitimate, but their incentive is to push you, the market, to the limit of what you’ll accept. It’s not in your interest to be pushed to the breaking point, so what gives Actuaries legitimacy? The fact that their product sold to investors? Do you believe investors are generally fair or care beyond their financial gains?

Might you, the people you trust, the governed, have more in common with each other than investors? Might the people looking for cover know better what affects them and what doesn’t than actuaries? Can the wisdom of this common crowd be a better source of legitimacy? For those that believe in democracy, consent of the governed is the epitome of legitimacy.

We’ve been through a very similar legitimacy dance with Open Source Solutions (OSS), we won that war, despite lawers still causing problems, and now OSS is not only considered legitimate by the wide majority of developers and enterprises, if you don’t use OSS then THAT’s extremely suspect. We believe Pharo’s Wisdom of Crowds (WoC) will follow a similar path. We believe Pharo early adopters will legitimize WoC in the eyes of the next wave of users, in other words they’ll accept the butcher’s word and eat the T-Bone. We’ll find out for sure as we roll out our MVP and test on kovan, stay tuned 📻