Thursday, January 20, 2011

Amateurs over professionals

Turns out bloggers were much better at estimating Apple's financial numbers than analysts who were presumably paid large sums of money to get those numbers right. Of course, the bloggers have a financial stake in getting the numbers right, too. Still, rather embarrassing for the analysts.

I wonder if this was an isolated incident, or if there's going to be a general trend of enthusiasts outperforming professionals in certain areas. I'm thinking of Nate Silver's recent success at election forecasting. Also, I'm recalling how when I worked in the games group at Microsoft, people in the Excel group were often better at our games than our own testers who were being paid to the best they could be at the game.

Do people who are naturally enthusiastic about something have an advantage over mercenaries? Do institutional analysts have to worry about offending clients or pleasing bosses with numbers in ways that bloggers don't? Or is this just a fluke, or limited to areas in which people like geeking out?

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