Tag Archives: Content

REWIND: US Papers filled with Crowdsources

Sourced with compliments from http://www.wired.com/software/webservices/news/2006/11/72067

According to internal documents provided to Wired News and interviews with key executives, Gannett, the publisher of USA Today as well as 90 other American daily newspapers, will begin crowdsourcing many of its newsgathering functions. Starting Friday, Gannett newsrooms were rechristened “information centers,” and instead of being organized into separate metro, state or sports departments, staff will now work within one of seven desks with names like “data,” “digital” and “community conversation.”

The initiative emphasizes four goals: Prioritize local news over national news; publish more user-generated content; become 24-7 news operations, in which the newspapers do less and the websites do much more; and finally, use crowdsourcing methods to put readers to work as watchdogs, whistle-blowers and researchers in large, investigative features.

“This is a huge restructuring for us,” said Michael Maness, the VP for strategic planning of news and one of the chief architects of the project. According to an e-mail sent Thursday to Gannett news staff by CEO Craig Dubow, the restructuring has been tested in 11 locations throughout the United States, but will be in place throughout all of Gannett’s newspapers by May. “Implementing the (Information) Center quickly is essential. Our industry is changing in ways that create great opportunity for Gannett.”

And great challenges: Like other newspaper publishing companies, Gannett has watched its share price slide steadily southward, losing 30 percent of its value since January 2004. Although newspapers still post healthy profits, circulation has declined precipitously as more and more readers migrate to the internet, non-journalistic news sources like The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, and on-the-scene videos posted to Youtube.com. Readership figures in the 18- to 34-year-old demographic have been especially dispiriting, and Wall Street has aggressively demanded that papers cut costs and adapt to rapid changes in technology.

Other large publishers are already experimenting with bringing readers into a more participatory role, and a host of citizen-journalism projects like NowPublic and NewAssignment.Net have sprung up in the last few years. But because of its reach, Gannett’s move could bring these issues into the mainstream.

Of all the pilot projects the company has conducted over the last few months, the most promising would seem to be the crowdsourcing of in-depth investigations into government malfeasance. Crowdsourcing involves taking functions traditionally performed by employees and using the internet to outsource them to an undefined, generally large group of people. The compensation is usually far less than what an employee might make for performing the same service. Well-known examples include Wikipedia and iStockphoto.

“We’ve already had some really amazing results with the crowdsourcing element of this,” said Jennifer Carroll, Gannett’s VP for new media content. “Most of us got into this business because we were passionate about watchdog journalism and public service, and we’ve just watched those erode. We’ve learned that no one wants to read a 400-column-inch investigative feature online. But when you make them a part of the process they get incredibly engaged.”

The most prominent example, Carroll said, occurred this summer with The News-Press in Fort Myers, Florida. In May, readers from the nearby community of Cape Coral began calling the paper, complaining about the high prices — as much as $28,000 in some cases — being charged to connect newly constructed homes to water and sewer lines.

Maness asked the News-Press to employ a new method of looking into the complaints. “Rather than start a long investigation and come out months later in the paper with our findings we asked our readers to help us find out why the cost was so exorbitant,” said Kate Marymont, the News-Press‘ editor in chief.

The response overwhelmed the paper, which has a circulation of about 100,000. “We weren’t prepared for the volume, and we had to throw a lot more firepower just to handle the phone calls and e-mails,” Marymont said.

Readers spontaneously organized their own investigations: Retired engineers analyzed blueprints, accountants pored over balance sheets, and an inside whistle-blower leaked documents showing evidence of bid-rigging.

“We had people from all over the world helping us,” said Marymont. For six weeks the News-Press generated more traffic to its website than “ever before, excepting hurricanes.” In the end, the city cut the utility fees by more than 30 percent, one official resigned, and the fees have become the driving issue in an upcoming city council special election.

Maness said the experience was so encouraging that Gannett will roll out the new approach in all of its newsrooms. “We’re going to restructure everything in how we gather news and information. We’ll shift our eyes and ears on the ground from reporters to the crowd.”

Sources at several papers, from The Indianapolis Star to The Cincinnati Enquirer to the Burlington (Vermont) Free Press, said Gannett corporate headquarters had directed them to adopt the new approach.

Naturally, the newsrooms are wary of the changes, despite the results achieved in Fort Myers. “We’ve broken into task forces to figure out how to implement this, but some of this stuff, I’ll be honest, gives us great pause,” said one midlevel editor at a Gannett newspaper, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The editor of the Indianapolis Star sparked a minor controversy when he launched that paper’s crowdsourcing efforts in the editor’s page a few weeks ago. Several staffers publicly expressed the concern that Gannett was turning to the crowd as a cost-saving measure, and worried that the changes would result in more job cuts.

“Look, we’ve got some hurdles to get over, as an industry and as a company. Cultural hurdles and technological hurdles,” said Gregory Korte, an investigative journalist with the Cincinnati Enquirer who has been working to implement some of these ideas at the paper. At some point, he says, it’s going to get painful. “The newspaper of the future is going to need more programmers than copy editors, and we’re going to have to figure out how to make that transition.”

Carroll and Maness have promised that no layoffs will occur as a result of the reorganization. “We’re retraining our people, and many will take on new duties,” said Maness, noting that photographers are being trained to take videos, and that library staffers may be called upon to man the “data desk,” which manages the influx of information Gannett hopes readers will be submitting. “But no one’s going to lose their job because of this.”

Above and beyond pink-slip considerations, crowdsourcing journalism raises many other thorny issues, said Korte. The paper recently asked the crowd to weigh in on the grisly murder of a 3-year-old foster child.

“All that water-cooler speculation moved online,” said Korte. The readers were convicting the foster parents before charges were even filed. “We wound up having to close down the message boards until an indictment came down. It’s very hard to separate fact from fiction online, and some people expect that whatever’s on our site undergoes the same degree of scrutiny as what appears in the paper.”

Korte said he feels that crowdsourcing holds a great deal of promise for certain “pocketbook” issues, like the sewage scandal in Fort Myers, but that it will take a lot of thought and experimentation before discovering how best to utilize the approach.

“We’re serious about this,” he said. “Do we have it licked? No. But we’re ahead of the curve. By maybe half a step.”

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New Pepsi ‘Dewmocracy’ Push Threatens to Crowd Out Shops

Source with compliments from http://adage.com/agencynews/article?article_id=140120

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — The trend of marketers relying on the wisdom of crowds to create marketing campaigns is escalating as PepsiCo turns over the choice of agencies for three product launches to the masses, ramping up the potential threat to ad shops bypassed or relegated to a supporting role in implementing the resulting efforts.

 

Consumers voted on the color they wanted for three new Dewmocracy products and then a paintball of that color was shot at volunteers. The volunteer covered with the most paint at the end won.
Consumers voted on the color they wanted for three new Dewmocracy products and then a paintball of that color was shot at volunteers. The volunteer covered with the most paint at the end won.

In a contest beginning this month, Mtn Dew will hand off marketing duties, at least temporarily, for a $100 million-plus business to several potentially unknown players selected by consumers. Via the contest, any agency, independent film company or individual can submit 12-second clips via www.12seconds.tv outlining their ideas for marketing three new Mtn Dew line extensions.

Those line extensions themselves were created by the crowd. Distortion, Whiteout and Typhoon are the latest results of Dewmocracy, an initiative designed to open up product development to consumers. Last year, the Dewmocracy brands accounted for 25 million cases — or a couple hundred million dollars, according to John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest. By comparison, Coke Zero, a major growth engine and core brand for Coca-Cola, sold 96 million cases last year.

“It really is a good piece of business for a line extension, even in this big a category,” Mr. Sicher said.

When Dewmocracy launched in 2007, it involved an online game. This time around, Mtn Dew is using Facebook, Twitter and its private online Dew Labs Community to determine the flavor, color, packaging and names of the new products. Now, it’s also allowing consumers to select the agencies that will produce 15-second spots for each of the new flavors. Digital advertising and point-of-sale materials could also become a part of the mix. Once the flavors and advertising break in April 2010, consumers will vote to determine which flavor will become a permanent part of the Mtn Dew lineup.

Fate of BBDO
Mtn Dew is adamant that the new effort will not impact its relationship with agency of record BBDO Worldwide, noting that it has been a part of Dewmocracy from the beginning and continues to play an important role in the process. BBDO directed a call for comment to the client.

Brett O’Brien, Mtn Dew’s director-marketing, said that the broadcast spots created by the selected agencies will be supported by a “robust media plan,” noting that marketing is a key part of the Dewmocracy process.

“If we’re going to have a dialogue with consumers and have consumers play a role in dictating the future of our brand, they’ve got to play a role in all aspects of it,” said Mr. O’Brien of the decision to let consumers select agencies.

Crowd-sourcing is a growing phenomenon among major brands such as Unilever and Amazon. Frito-Lay’s Doritos brand has run three consecutive “Crash the Super Bowl” campaigns, which ask consumers to vote on their favorite consumer-generated spot. The latest contest offered a $1 million prize if the winner topped the USAToday ad poll, which it did. But while contests like that have been decidedly gimmicky, a more troubling trend for agencies is emerging. This fall, Unilever’s Peperami brand dismissed Lowe, London, in favor of running a contest to find TV and print ad ideas. Just this month, two former senior managers at Crispin Porter & Bogusky launched Victors & Spoils, billed as the world’s first creative agency built on crowd-sourcing principles.

“Most agency relationships, they’re still the brand steward. They understand the brand they’re working with at an almost molecular level,” said Chick Foxgrover, 4A’s chief information officer. “It’s unclear whether [crowd-sourcing] will be a trend that takes hold in a universal way or whether it’s more of an experiment. … In general, there’s a lot of experimentation going on in agency compensation. This fits into the context of that larger conversation.”

Outside perspective
Mr. O’Brien said the review will be promoted to indie agencies, indie film companies, universities and film schools, as well as via online messaging and word-of-mouth. BBDO handled advertising for the previous Dewmocracy product launches. This time, BBDO will work on an umbrella spot that explains the overall Dewmocracy program, while the selected agencies work independently on the launch creative.

“I don’t know … that they’ll bring something different — certainly they may have a different perspective,” Mr. O’Brien said about the prospect of using a smaller agency or a film company, rather than a large, traditional agency. “It lets us get an interesting and unique perspective on the brand from people that aren’t living and breathing it every day.”

Asked whether the agencies tapped for the product launches could pick up more Mtn Dew business, Mr. O’Brien said he didn’t know, adding that “it’s certainly TBD.” PepsiCo has worked with small agencies in the past, especially in the digital space, and recently tapped Interpublic Group of Cos. digital agency Huge to handle a piece of business for brand Pepsi.

Mtn Dew has been one of the few trademarks growing in the carbonated soft-drink space, with volume up 1% in the first half, as the overall category declined 2.7%, according to Beverage Digest.

“[Dewmocracy] contributes to our growth. … The Dew fan is excited about engaging with new offerings from Dew. But it also attracts new people into the Dew fan base that say, ‘hey, this is something really interesting, let me give it a try,'” explained Mr. O’Brien. “And retailers love it, because it’s interesting news that drives folks into the stores.”

When campaigns go to the crowds

Crowd-sourcing isn’t new, but it’s increasingly popular, with major brands turning to consumers to create marketing for all sorts of products.

AMAZON: The online retailer turned to consumers this year for TV concepts, eventually awarding $20,000 to the winner, a photographer based in Los Angeles.

CAREERBUILDER: In May, CareerBuilder dropped Wieden & Kennedy. That same month it began promoting the HireMyTvAd contest. The winning ad could be shown during the 2010 Super Bowl.

CHEVROLET: In 2006, a contest to create ads for the Chevy Tahoe resulted in anti-SUV spoofs, but it did garner plenty of attention.

DORITOS: For three years running, the Frito-Lay brand has run a “Crash the Super Bowl” campaign featuring consumer-generated ads.

HP: To promote its Artist Edition laptops, HP launched the You on You Project this summer. It asked consumers to upload videos or remix a commercial using stock footage.

PEPERAMI: The Unilever snack brand dismissed Lowe, London, earlier this year in favor of a crowd-sourcing strategy to find new ideas for TV and print.

 

Corporate Social Responsibility + Social Media = Promise of Transformation

Sourced with compliments from

http://www.csrwire.com/csrlive/commentary_detail/1257-Corporate-Social-Responsibility-Social-Media-Promise-of-Transformation

“This is a world of transparency, openness, two-way dialogue with your constituents… I just think that’s part of the game today.” So said GE CEO Jeff Immelt in response to a question I posed to him, on how his company uses web 2.0 tools to engage with its stakeholders on sustainability issues, last week at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco (see it here – scroll to 23:15). “If you’re not willing to be completely transparent on just about everything you do, and if you can’t tolerate life in a world where you’re sharing information openly and getting input from lots of different people, where they have the ability to critique, criticize, have inputs… you better find a new profession,” he said.

I was there gathering material for a research fellowship I’m conducting with Marcy Murninghan and Bob Massie on web 2.0 and corporate accountability for the Harvard-Kennedy Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative, with the Summit sandwiched between the JustMeans Social Media for Sustainability and the Business for Social Responsibility conferences. The week’s takeaways: web 2.0 holds great promise to transform the way companies engage with stakeholders, but we are still way early in the innovation curve on using web 2.0 to advance corporate sustainability and accountability!

That said, web 2.0 has already radically transformed conference power dynamics: gone is the one-way transmission of information from the stage that privileges presenters; now, thanks to Twitter and hashtags, the audience voices itself in a meta-dialogue transpiring in real-time during presentations. For example, we who followed the #justmeans hashtag throughout that conference participated in creating a steady stream of comments, criticisms, questions – and “distillations” that I characterized as a “subtle art,” sometimes capturing points better than they’re presented. Kudos to Natural Logic CEO Gil Friend for best distillation — of InnoCentive CEO Dwayne Spradlin: “Crowdsourcing vs outsourcing requires profound organizational change.”

Harnessing the power of crowdsourcing, “Getting the Message Out” panel moderator Chad Boettcher of Weber Shandwick projected the conference Twitter feed on the screen to display audience questions for Treehugger Founder Graham Hill, TriplePundit Co-Publisher Ryan Mickle, and JustMeans Managing Director Deb Berman. “I was really happy with this use of distributive technology,” said CSRwire Chair Joe Sibilia, who I ran into at both the JustMeans and BSR conferences.

Joe and I shared our concern about web 2.0 in the CSR space focusing exclusively on money-making opportunities, such as brand enhancement, to the distraction of more promising transformative opportunities, such as leveraging its connective power for movement-building. We agreed that the CSR-social media connection needs to balance its business case with its change agency.

Measuring financial or social return on investment remains elusive, however. In the “How to Calculate the ROI of Social Media” panel, “the panelists could not give one compelling business reason for the return on investment in using social networking tools,” said Joe. “Many of my colleagues are trying to measure the amount of time and effort to expend on this new technology, and that’s why we went. We left the meeting with an empty feeling about the content, with this question unanswered…”

How to crowdsource

Sourced with compliments from http://www.computerweekly.com/Articles/2009/10/30/238362/media140-opportunities-challenges-and-benefits-of-social.htm

Crowdsourcing simply means asking people that you might not otherwise be able to reach for opinions, ideas, or help through some form of social media. It has possible internal applications for asking an entire, geographically dispersed company something.

The challenges could involve issues around intellectual property. If you are asking for ideas that are actually worth money, doing it such a public way could backfire. And once the exercise is up and running, there will almost certainly be issues around managing the information or ideas you receive.

A recent crowdsourcing exercise for a marketing campaign for Unilever got 1,200 decent responses – it’s then someone’s job to pick the best.

Social media is certainly low in financial cost, but you must be aware of the time costs, which can be relatively high if you are really going to do it well. Plus, you have got to make sure you think carefully about whether this technology is going to work for a particular task or brief.

Crowdsourcing may transform the “brainstorming” part of your project, but it won’t change the fact that once you have a great idea, you are going to need the same skills and investment to put it into practice.

What kind of brief works? One example floated at Media140 was car manufacturer BMW, which wanted a customer relationship management (CRM) system for managing a database of customers that the company wants to engage with in the long term.

Just because applications of social media have so far related to marketing, advertising or sales, doesn’t mean there aren’t hundreds of possibilities in other parts of the business. The important thing is to keep it simple, at least at first, and be clear about what you want to do.

Do’s

  • Be honest. Especially about mistakes. People will see through you anyway, so don’t misinform. Dell is a good example to follow here – when it got things wrong, it owned up, changed the way it did things and is now often upheld as an example of good practice.
  • Only contribute when you have something to say. Don’t go wading into conversations or harassing people – you wouldn’t do it in the real world, so don’t do it on Twitter or an internal network. Many of the rules of engaging in real-world conversation apply to online conversations.
  • Target people properly. Make sure you are providing relevant information to the right people. You have to work out what will benefit the people you want to engage with.

Don’ts

  • Don’t try to be something you’re not. One delegate at Media140 asked how you should approach social media if you’re already hugely unpopular – a bank, perhaps, or a certain brand of politician.
  • Lloyd Davis, founder of Tuttle, said there’s no faking it. “You have to change who you are, not just the perception of who you are.”
  • Dont forget to find some way to measure your success. You need to justify what you are doing – to do this, you need to be crystal clear about what you’re trying to achieve.
  • Don’t patronise (or try to rip off) customers or even employees. Social media provides a way for these people to talk to each other, and as such, puts a bit more power in their hands.
  • Don’t expect overnight success, unless you happen to be Oprah Winfrey. It takes time to build up trust, and it has to be done subtly.
  • Don’t undervalue the skills it takes to get this right, or the benefits the company could achieve from getting it right. Some companies are hiring third parties to engage for them, but there’s potentially a role for in-house skills in managing this kind of engagement
  • Don’t forget that social networks weren’t invented for companies – they were invented for people, and it is individuals who have flocked to and embraced them. The challenge for business is to work out where it fits.

Control

Some companies love to control things, but if your company is one of these, it’s time to relax a little. Your employees and your customers have always been able to say negative things about you – but now they can do it on the internet, and perhaps they’ll have a few more people listening. There is of course a danger than employees will misrepresent your brand online, but there’s a danger that they’ll do this every day anyway. Word of mouth is not a new concept.

There are different ways to approach this particular challenge. Drinks company Innocent and online clothing retailer Asos.com both spoke at Media140 and outlined different approaches.

James Hart, e-commerce director at Asos.com, encourages staff to add the brand name to their usernames and talk about what they are doing at work on their Twitter or Facebook pages, instead of just talking to their friends. He said,

“We have 55 people on Twitter. I trust them and I see what they say because I follow them. We like to be where our customers are, and we adapt to the environment. I’m not really sure what to do with the official account. People search for Asos so we need something, but we dont really push products at them. I just want to talk to and learn from them.”

In comparison, Ted Hunt, digital communications manager at Innocent, said his company has the one official account. Innocent isn’t strict over internet communication – it doesnt delete comments on its blog, unless they have swearing in them. Negative comments stay up, and the company encourages interaction. But Hunt says it is simply easier to manage one Twitter account than lots of them.

“We keep it as a single Innocent drinks account. Otherwise it fragments too much and it is hard to control the message. It is easier to get a message out in one go. But we don’t moderate strictly. In two years we have removed six comments on our blogs. Negative comments stay up. We take down swearing because children come to the website.”

A company can take whichever approach feels most suitable, but the key thing to remember is that you are not going to catch everything in your net. There are plenty of companies around if you do want to monitor what’s being said about a particular business, but ultimately trust is likely to get you further than draconian rules and spying.

Commitment

You cannot just turn up on Twitter and tick off “social media” on the to-do list. It requires a bit of work and effort before tangible results are seen. Social media may not seem like the most important priority in a recession, but taking the time to understand it and know the basics could be a good idea.

Take Dominos Pizza, it was landed in deep PR-trouble after two employees uploaded a video onto YouTube showing them doing horrible things with people’s food. It got 600,000 views and the damage to the company’s reputation could have been untold. Dominos took 48 hours to respond – which was criticised at the time for being too long – but when it did, it was effective.

Its response video has now had one million views, beating the first one, but what was important was that it chose the same medium to communicate with people instead of releasing a dry press release.

If a business knows the basics, understands a bit about how this technology works, it will be in a better position to respond effectively if an employee or disgruntled customer manages to get it in trouble. Some level of commitment is required by all.

For those who really want to get it right, training employees in what’s appropriate and what can work is a good first step. John Beasley, head of brand at Red Bull, which is relying increasingly on social media for its marketing, said at Media140 that long-term commitment is the only thing that will get it to work. The first thing the company did was create a presence online using MySpace, Facebook and Twitter.

He says, “But we had to develop that though and use content. We found consumers wanted short bits of content that needed to be refreshed constantly. We also created lots of different points for consumers to discover us through.”

Listen

Corporate arrogance is not what people are after. If there are complaints, it is good practice to acknowledge them. And if you manage to solve the problems people talk about, you will be hailed as a hero (it might be by only one person, but that’s better than none).

One example aired at Media140 was Comcast. TheUS internet service provider responded to a tweet from Techcrunch editor Michael Arrington complaining about the company, and sorted out the issues he was having. The result was free positive publicity in a blog post that went out to Arrington’s three million readers.

How to Save Money and Draw a Crowd

Sourced with compliments from:

http://blog.entrepreneur.com/2009/09/–ways-crowdsourcing-can-help-your-business.php

Feeling shorthanded these days? Wondering if your business is truly meeting your customers’ needs? If you answered yes to either of those questions, have you asked all your customers to help you?

Increasingly, companies big and small are doing just that. It’s called crowdsourcing–enlisting the help of a large group of people to do company work or shape the company agenda, rather than delegating tasks to an employee or two, or perhaps an ad agency.

The growth of social media has enabled crowdsourcing, making it easy for companies to connect with huge mobs of customers. A couple of the key benefits: saving money and making customers feel more connected to your company.

A great recent example of crowdsourcing came during the Super Bowl earlier this year, when Doritosannounced a consumer video contest to create its Super Bowl ads. More than 2,000 applicants made their own proposed 30-second ad spots for Doritos and aired them online. Doritos gave out $5 million in prize money–likely not more than they would have spent having an agency design the campaign.

And do you think any of those customers will ever forget how much fun they had entering the contest?

Netflix has used crowdsourcing to engage the tech-geek crowd (possibly they stay home a lot and rent many movies?). This month they wrapped a contest to design better movie-recommendation technology for them, with a $1 million prize.

Wins for Netflix? More engaged customers, and better movie recommendations for all its customers, without the expense of putting their own dedicated team on the task of improving their software. The company immediately announced another $1 million contest to improve on the company’s “taste profile” software.

Crowdsourcing can be as simple as Dell’s IdeaStorm website, where customers can leave suggestions for new products or services they’d like to see. Rather than just a few engineers sitting around in a conference room, now they’re tapping their entire customer base’s brainpower.

Some entrepreneurs are even building small businesses entirely from crowdsourcing. As a reporter, my favorite example has to be Peter Shankman’s Help A Reporter Out, an online service that allows experts and PR people to see a daily feed of sources journalists are seeking. Through HARO, reporters can essentially ask a global crowd to answer their questions. All I can say is–it’s beautiful. Experts get the press they want, and reporters get the best available source for their story.

It’s free so far, but I’ve got to believe that at some point, he’ll start charging PR people a few dollars a month for these valuable reporter leads–and he’ll be rich. For now, he’s hooked a huge audience on using his service, and who knows how many ways he might leverage that in the future.

Are you using crowdsourcing in your business? If so leave a comment and let us know about it. If not, consider whether there isn’t a way for your business to benefit from crowd power.

Crowdsourcing Doesn’t Guarantee Quality… But It Can Be Great Advertising

Sourced with compliments http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20091023/0932216655.shtml

Earlier this month, BBC Audiobooks America started an audiobook project based on Twitter messages where Neil Gaiman kicked off an exquisite corpse process of stringing together about 1,000 Tweets to forge a storyline. Dozens of Twitter users contributed tweets to be edited into a coherent plot that will be released as a free audiobook download. From this publicity stunt, an approximately 50-page book (or 2-hr audiobook, actually) has been created from Gaiman’s fans. And presumably, the collection of tweets could also be remixed and edited — and improved — to possibly gain further participation from Gaiman (who contributed the first line of the story and will read aloud the completed audiobook) and the attention of any number of other authors. It’s not exactly a brand-new idea to compose a story in this way, but it’s a very interesting way to advertise and connect with fans to whet their appetites for more content to come (and even pay for).

However, the crowdsourcing aspect of this particular audiobook has been criticized in detail for exhibiting the worst of literary clichés as well as a meandering plot with too many characters and unresolved arcs. But generalizing this crowd’s apparently unsatisfying result to all possible collaborative-author processes seems a bit disingenuous. Perhaps it’s one of my pet peeves, but the schadenfreude surrounding crowdsourced works that aren’t “as good as Shakespeare” seems to focus too much on some artificial failure, and not the potential or the realized successes. Maybe fiction isn’t the best target for collaborative authorship, but the suggestion that collaborative writing won’t ever work for good storytelling is far from proven. In fact, many popular stories (TV shows, etc) are written by teams of authors. (So the question could be posed: where does the optimal number of authors arise?) Conversely, the overwhelming number of unsuccessful stories written by single authors should not discourage writers from working alone, either. Bad stories happen.

The real triumph of this crowdwork is that this experiment engaged with its audience and promoted Gaiman and BBCAA for future works. From the BBC’s perspective, a ton of content was generated largely for free, and a promotional audiobook was created in just a few days. Had the BBC commissioned a single author to compose a similar work, there wouldn’t be any guarantees of a compelling book in the end. And working with a single author might require more complex licensing rights and royalties. So crowdsourcing this project sounds like an advertising coup — generating a promotion appropriately disguised as free content. It’s not Shakespeare, but it’s a whole lot better than a banner ad, right?

 

Crowdsourcing: 5 Reasons It’s Not Just For Startups Any More

Sourced with compliments from http://www.ebizq.net/blogs/enterprise/2009/09/crowdsourcing_5_reasons_its_no.php

Next-generation enterprises looking to drive efficiency and innovation have recently been able to tap into online communities to offload work. For the first time since outsourcing became prevalent in the 90s — making it easier to move tasks out to partners that could do something better or more cheaply than you could — businesses now have a new, potent, and often far cheaper option thanks to the Web.

Frequently referred to as crowdsourcing, and a darling of the Web 2.0 industry, it has recently come of age as the tools and marketplaces for on-demand work capacity on the network have expanded far beyond the early volunteer communities that originally proved out the concepts. These pioneers, which include the world of open source software and online services such as YouTube and Threadless, get most of their value from a large group of people or community through the simple use of an open invitation.