Paul M. Banas on Consumer Insights, Marketing Research, and the Digital Media Landscape
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Category — Crowdsourcing

The Dark Side of Crowdsourcing

With a jaundiced eye, one could look at such crowdsourcing vehicles like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and see its future as nothing more than a digitized sweatshop. The potential dark side of crowdsourcing is one that Jeff Howe at his Crowdsourcing blog touches on in his latest post. The concepts of digital peer production and crowdsourcing are still in their early, and somewhat idealistic, years. I’m pretty sure programmers associated with the early development of Linux did not feel like they were being exploited, but an outside observer could only wonder why would someone spend hours of work on something for which they would have no promise of receiving a monetary reward. The simple fact is that most crowdsourcing today is fairly benign and beneficial to its participants because the primary award is participation itself, along with some form of recognition. Unfortunately, that’s not to say that the future doesn’t hold something less idealistic when things come down to dollars and cents. While the Internet gave us all the benefits of email and the Web, it also gave us the negative developments of spam and identity theft from those looking to exploit the new systems.

October 30, 2007   No Comments

Three Insights into… Crowdsourcing

What do you get when you cross User Generated Content and a virtual sweatshop right out of a digital Charles Dickens? You get “Crowdsourcing”, although the Dickens analogy is more me taking a glass-half-empty approach to where this form of click collaboration could eventually go. And actually it’s not new, since the British government first harnessed it as a way to solve the longitude problem in 1714.

Crowdsourcing is a taking a task, many times relatively unskilled, and outsourcing it to a wide range of volunteers (paid or otherwise) via the web. The P&G example from this post is crowdsourcing done with experts who exist outside a company’s structure. There are ways to experience crowdsourcing through click collaboration first hand, however, without being an expert and with minimal setup. The first two are ones I’ve dabble in and found interesting, and the third is one I haven’t done, but follows the same vein:

  1. Find Steve Fossett: Using the Mechanical Turk site from Amazon, anyone can participate in the search for adventurer Steve Fossett’s plane by scanning satellite photos of the Nevada backcountry for evidence of where it may have gone down.
  2. Classify the Universe: With a brief tutorial and a short quiz at Galaxy Zoo, you can help astrophysicists from Oxford University classify millions of galaxies into spirals or ellipticals with images from the Sloan Sky Survey.
  3. Help Create a Digital Library: By proofreading digitized texts at Distributed Proofreaders, you can help Project Gutenberg, a wiki dedicated to bringing free e-books to the web.

October 8, 2007   No Comments