Applicability, connection and authenticity. That’s how I would sum up this week’s three articles about crowdsourcing, a trend inconceivable in most of the last century and now the norm for sites like Wikipedia. I was familiar with a the ideas noted in the Wired Magazine piece highlighting different case studies — but had no idea the level to which some industries are playing, including figuring out how to get fluoride to stick to toothpaste, apparently! I’m also struck, however, by the parallels of some of these examples and the multiple ways that Barack Obama basically counted on crowdsourcing to expand his campaign message (vs. relying on traditional media or paid staff) during his first (and second) presidential election.
The power to connect students from around the globe to tackle some of the biggest issues of its generation was clear in the IBM Jam session. But I must say I was left underwhelmed by the final product. It seems they did a great job establishing a baseline of knowledge for a farflung group of people, but it seems to me the next step would be establishing microcrowd groups to actually tackle concrete efforts. Nonetheless, I can see the power in this approach. And as the study noted, in using this kind of technology to connect constituents in a given political area to solve and brainstorm problems.
Finally, the research paper on Wikipedia — perhaps the most successful but still unreliable crowdsourcing initiative everyone has heard of. And while I understand the founder’s notion that to keep this pure you keep PR sources out, it seems to me he is trying to apply an old-school rule to a new-school technology potentially for the detriment of the user and the truth. Would it not make a lot more sense to allow the PR/communication professional editing but clearly denote it as such? Wikipedia seems to want to operate under the illusion that information can be neutral because the crowd will make sure it is when in fact, particularly when it comes to crowdsourcing, the integrity is further undermined by barring/censoring some one’s people’s input. Better to cite the source and let the reader decide.
1) How do you use Wikipedia? Do you trust it? Have you ever contributed/edited an article?
2) If your local government was to set up a JAM type event, would you participate? And are you more likely to do that than get involved in other ways, such as voting, attending/watching public meetings, etc?
3) Do you know anyone who has made money off crowdsourcing work? What did they do?