The wisdom of crowds concept works for writing software. (Think open source.) But does it work for writing novels? That’s what Penguin and De Monfort University (in the UK) wanted to figure out when they launched an experiment in February 2007 called “A Million Little Penguins.” Over the course of five weeks, roughly 1500 writers drafted a collaborative novel using wiki software (the same one used by Wikipedia), and you can now view the completed manuscript here. So far the reviews are not overwhelming. According to one observer, “it’s incoherent. You might get something similar if you took a stack of supermarket checkout line potboilers and some Mad Libs and threw them in a blender.” And then there’s this pithy verdict by the snarky blog, Gawker: “The text itself is terrible.” Ouch. But maybe someone who is less reflexively dismissive will have a different view, though I wouldn’t bet on it. Have a read here. Also see De Montfort’s post mortem of the project here.
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