Sociology and politics of information

Epistemic democracy, cognitive democracy, the great society

What institutions can harness the wisdom of crowds and which are slave to memes madness?

I am curious to read about the models used for this.

Allen, Farrell, and Shalizi (2017);Farrell and Shalizi (n.d.b);Acemoglu, Chernozhukov, and Yildiz (2006);Acemoglu and Ozdaglar (2011)

Epistemic communities


See maybe science as community or renewing journalism.

Cognitive democracy

TBD. Maybe rinse Farrell’s Cognitive Democracy for links.

Effective Institutions Project

The Effective Institutions Project is a new global working group dedicated to building a cross-disciplinary community of interest around the challenge of improving institutional decision-making (IIDM). We aim to increase the technical quality and altruistic intent of important decisions made by powerful institutions. We leverage the accumulated wisdom of researchers and practitioners across many fields in order to identify opportunities to make change that are likely to have the greatest positive impact on society.

Actions taken by powerful institutions—such as central governments, multinational corporations, influential media outlets, and wealthy philanthropic funders—shape our lives in myriad and often hard-to-perceive ways. Yet on issues from COVID to climate change, our leaders too often misjudge risks, make choices based on political expediency, and fail to imagine wiser alternatives when it counts the most.

It’s no surprise, then, that according to an analysis by 80,000 Hours, “improving the quality of decision-making in important institutions could improve our ability to solve almost all other problems.” We need our institutions to do better. Our lives may literally depend on it.


Clara Vandeweerdt

I work on public opinion, media and climate politics. My latest paper talks about how reporting on events looks very different depending on the ideological color of the media outlet.

Via Byrne Hobart, Odlyzko and Tilly (2005):

This note presents several quantitative arguments that suggest the value of a general communication network of size \(n\) grows liken \(n\log(n)\). This growth rate is faster than the linear growth, of order \(n\), that, according to Sarnoff’s Law, governs the value of a broadcast network. On the other hand,it is much slower than the quadratic growth of Metcalfe’s Law, and helps explain the failure of the dot-com and telecom booms, as well as why network interconnection (such as peering on the Internet) remains a controversial issue.


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