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Popular Delusions and the madness of the hivemind
July 5, 2006 8:38 AM   Subscribe

Crowdsourcing is the hottest way for companies to get a lot of content for not a lot of effort. From spaceships to t-shirts to iconic characters to lunar landers (via) to the latest entry, open source with money.
posted by Isabeau Sahen (29 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
more like open sores am i rite
posted by keswick at 8:52 AM on July 5, 2006


Don't forget the sheep. Lots and lots of sheep.
posted by revgeorge at 8:54 AM on July 5, 2006


more like open sores am i rite

Never underestimate the power of the hive mind! Something about this idea really appeals to me.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 8:55 AM on July 5, 2006


If something starts with "such and such is the hottest way..." someone will yell PepsiBlue on you
posted by wheelieman at 8:57 AM on July 5, 2006


I like the idea of istockphoto and the access it offers to amateurs like myself (who can, occasionally, ake a pretty good picture). Lowering the barrier to entry is always going to pinch the ones who've been making the most off the old models. If that's crowdsourcing then sign me up, I can use the cash.
posted by fenriq at 9:07 AM on July 5, 2006


An idea from the cambrian house site...

SuperFAQ is a system where people can submit questions and answers.

What a great idea...someone should get right on that!
posted by sexymofo at 9:24 AM on July 5, 2006


1) Crowdsourcing doesn't always produce better content. But it does organize and concentrate labor very well.

2) Crowdsourcing works well in the "economy of attention", where "information" and "physical stuff" no longer drives the economic engine, rather it is peoples attention (eyeballs) is the new currency of trade. For more info see "The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information"

3) The "Professional Amateur" is an important and notable historic trend. Just as the "Professional" emerged in the 19th century (and came to dominate the 20th), the ProAm is emerging in the 21st century as a new model. See ProAm, in particular the free report by the UK thinktank Davos "The ProAm Revolution" (PDF).

This where it's at right now. Linux and Wikipedia is the poster child but new ones are showing up quickly. Any field that has a "profession" is open to the new models, it's a wide-open opportunity
posted by stbalbach at 9:25 AM on July 5, 2006


Kevin: You know what you need? A hobby. I know it helps me.

Dave: Yeah? What do you do?

Kevin: Well, I don't like to toot my own horn, but I'm a pretty good amateur rectal photographer. Would you like to see my portfolio?

Dave: No. I would hate to.

Kevin: Fine. Screw you.

Dave: Well, Screw you.
posted by fleetmouse at 9:30 AM on July 5, 2006


It's not really like open sores. OSS is what happens when people solve their own problems and then give the solution away for free (and build on other peoples' solutions to similar problems). Crowdsourcing is like traditional contract work, where person A gets person B to solve A's problem, and A may even own the result and not give it away; it's just that the hiring process is very very streamlined and the pay is very very low.
posted by hattifattener at 10:10 AM on July 5, 2006


I'm new to this concept, but I seem to see two things being said here.
One is the idea that "professionalism" in a field is an antiquated idea.
The other is that this is just another way for companies to get as much as they can out of people for little or no compensation.

Can anyone explain how either of these paths result in a more prosperous future?
posted by Thorzdad at 10:19 AM on July 5, 2006


...the crowd has no wisdom: it will always choose the lowest common denominator, whatever that happens to be.
posted by youarenothere at 10:20 AM on July 5, 2006


MeFi Music is crowdsourced rock!
posted by mathowie at 10:30 AM on July 5, 2006


Crowdsourcing? Jesus H. Christ on a crutch, do we really need another retarded buzzword?!

We've been "crowdsourcing" since the heady days of Usenet. Massive collaborative editing, writing, coding, et al have been around since the Ancient Era in Internet time. This is not new, people!

Oh crap, I forgot. We're in the "Web 2.0 Era" where renaming something old makes it new again.
posted by illiad at 10:34 AM on July 5, 2006


Can anyone explain how either of these paths result in a more prosperous future? Well, companies profit off free labor all the time. They use Linux. They pay $1 for a stock photo supplied from an amateur rather than hire a professional photographer. Everyone benefits. By "everyone" I mean stockholders.
posted by QuietDesperation at 10:41 AM on July 5, 2006


If people are willing to work for free then an efficient market (and firm) should pay them nothing. There's just no good reason why a firm should hire employees to do X(=write sitcom scripts, create video content, gather news) when the 'market' can do it faster, cheaper and better well enough. The great thing about this sort of exploitation is that it drives down global wages and makes marketing perfectly efficient. Imagine a world where there are no end-line employees, just advertisers selling our own shit back to us with extraordinarily high margins. It'd be beautiful.
posted by nixerman at 11:10 AM on July 5, 2006


I really like threadless, and the "submit a design" model means they get a good variety of designs instead of similar looking stuff from the same few designers.

Not that it needed a new buzzword.
posted by flaterik at 11:13 AM on July 5, 2006


youarenotthere: It all depends on how you apply it. If you build the wrong kind of system you'll get an unwise crowd but that doesn't mean all crowds are unwise. The trick is to understand the limits of the concept & build accordingly. This is still an evolving area of knowledge.
posted by scalefree at 11:30 AM on July 5, 2006


The Wisdom of Crowds from SXSW 2006
posted by blue_beetle at 11:45 AM on July 5, 2006


One is the idea that "professionalism" in a field is an antiquated idea.

Is anyone actually saying that?
posted by stbalbach at 12:15 PM on July 5, 2006


Is anyone actually saying that?
Perhaps not outright, but it certainly is strongly implied. At least to me. YMMV.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:50 PM on July 5, 2006


Paul Graham is saying that : "There's a name for people who work for the love of it: amateurs. ... That's why the business world was so surprised by one lesson from open source: that people working for love often surpass those working for money."
posted by revgeorge at 1:35 PM on July 5, 2006


One is the idea that "professionalism" in a field is an antiquated idea.

I dunno - anyone interested in working with amateur doctors, lawyers, electricians, architects, psychologists, auto mechanics... hey wait a minute, sounds like my family...
posted by scheptech at 3:02 PM on July 5, 2006


thorzdad: that's basically it in a nutshell.
posted by keswick at 3:16 PM on July 5, 2006


Great. I guess when the majority of Americans believe in Intelligent Design over evolution, we're all good with that, right? Victory to the ProAms? The wisdom of the crowd?
posted by Thorzdad at 8:25 PM on July 5, 2006


If that's crowdsourcing then sign me up, I can use the cash.

$0.11 coming right your way!
posted by Afroblanco at 8:42 PM on July 5, 2006


Mojizu is such a ripoff--they get rights for 3 years with only opt-out renewal and they own and sell any "icons" they create from it.

this is adorable tho: luis ipis
posted by amberglow at 9:01 PM on July 5, 2006


The thing many crowd-sourcing proponents seem to be overlooking is that this adds to the continuing trend of devaluing the pay workers receive. Essentially we're innovating our way down to poverty wages.
posted by drezdn at 8:52 AM on July 6, 2006


but... but... shiny! see? shiny!!!
posted by keswick at 10:12 AM on July 6, 2006


I guess when the majority of Americans believe in Intelligent Design over evolution, we're all good with that, right? Victory to the ProAms? The wisdom of the crowd?

I think the popularity of Intelligent Design is something that will decrease as a result of open-sourcing, if there is wisdom in crowds. If anything, the surge in popularity lately is more of a coalescing of urban myth, also thanks to information technology. I think if ID proponents were to "open their source", so to speak, it wouldn't stand a chance.
posted by jimmy76 at 5:17 PM on July 6, 2006


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