The Wisdom of Crowds Chapter 7

Chapter 7. Traffic: What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate


Here are a few key points from Chapter 7:


  • Coordination is one of the dangers to the wisdom of crowds
  • Links coordination problem to traffic
  • Traffic is a result of failed coordination
  • (153) roads become crowded–> harder for drivers to coordinate with each other and make good decisions for the good of the traffic crowd
  • Drivers have to anticipate what others might do–> anticipation leads to overreaction (more breaking)
  • (153) Coordination on the highway is difficult because of the diversity of drivers
  • In a perfect world, everyone would drive at the same speed needed to keep a smooth traffic flow


  • (147) It’s odd that we have adjusted to congestion pricing in other parts of life (long distance phone calls cost more money during the day, drinks are cheaper during happy hour, costs more to go to Las Vegas on the weekend than during the week)
  • (149) “The point of congestion pricing is to get people to coordinate their activities better by balancing the benefits they get from driving against the costs they inflict on everyone else.”
  • (155) If drivers are the problem then take the steering wheel out of their hands. ¬†This is easier said than done; people don’t like giving up control or handing their lives over to a computer
  • (156) Achieve coherent flow: need a way to keep drivers from constantly slowing down and speeding up, and a way to smooth out the flow of cars entering the highway
  • (156) Goal to solving traffic problem: “ensure that the cars get on the highway when there’s room for them and when their presence fill a gap, thereby encouraging the traffic to fall into a coherent flow.”


Traffic coordination relates to the wisdom of crowds because:

  • want the crowd diverse enough to give diverse information that other people have not heard before
  • if the traffic crowd is too diverse, people will overreact on the road (braking, switching lanes)
  • if the group is too diverse, it makes it easier for people to make decisions based on facts
  • have to coordinate the flow of ideas in a crowd so that they will be helpful or “fill a gap”

One thought on “The Wisdom of Crowds Chapter 7

  1. Pingback: Semester Review for Final | Convergent Media, Divergent Voices

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