Crowd Sourcing

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Whether you consider crowds inherently wise or dumb, using them as a source of information, inspiration and even labour is on the rise. Done correctly crowd sourcing works well, done incorrectly, …

Whether you consider crowds inherently wise or dumb, using them as a source of information, inspiration and even labour is on the rise. Done correctly crowd sourcing works well, done incorrectly, however, and you have an expensive online PR disaster. What does crowd sourcing entail, how do you make it work for you? Learn more and read about some inspiring success stories, and some classic cases where obeying the 'wisdom' of crowds was not the way to go.

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  • 1. MediaVision: Presentations Crowd Sourcing By Sandy Cosser
  • 2. Crowd sourcing: What is it?
    • To paraphrase Jeff Howe, the term coiner:
    • Taking a task usually performed by a professional and handing it over to a (large) group of interested laymen
    • It’s harnessing the ‘wisdom of crowds’
    • Making practical use of the ‘two heads are better than one’ theory
    • And hoping like hell that too many cooks don’t spoil the broth
  • 3. Advantages
    • Fresh eyes = fresh approach
    • Definitely meet consumer needs
    • Cheaper alternative to paid labour (although incentives may produce better results)
    • Access to wider pool of talent
    • Get in touch with consumers, develop relationships
  • 4. Disadvantages
    • Might not attract enough interest to make the project worthwhile
    • Might not attract enough qualified interest to make the project worthwhile
    • Confusion over terms – proprietary rights and ownership, etc
  • 5. Is it relevant?
    • Oh, yes, it is very relevant
    • The internet has replaced the television as people’s medium of choice
    • Not just for entertainment, but also news, information, interaction and communication
    • The expectation is to influence … everything
  • 6. User-generated content
    • In an online context, Crowd sourcing is often called user-generated content
    • According to Wikipedia it’s used in:
      • problem solving
      • Research
      • News
      • Gossip
    • Examples include:
      • Blogs
      • YouTube
      • Wikis
      • Social networking sites
      • Discussion boards
      • Anything that allows comments or public participation
  • 7. What does it mean for business owners?
    • Damian Blackden ( director of strategic marketing technologies for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Universal McCann ):
    • Role of consumers has changed from mere consumption to creation
    • Which threatens company control over products and brands
    • But is an opportunity to engage consumers and increase their loyalty
    • Involves dialogue
    • Nigel Morris ( chief executive of the Aegis-owned digital network Isobar ):
    • Not about a company’s message anymore but whose consumers tell the best stories about them (brand evangelists)
  • 8. Time for some examples
    • Threadless : Chicago-based T-shirt maker
    • T-shirts are determined by an online contest
    • Submissions are posted on the website and scored
    • The four to six highest-scorers are put into production, if there is sufficient pre-order demand
    • Winners receive $2,000 in cash and prizes
    • But people argue that financial gain is secondary to the thrill of seeing your name on the label of a t-shirt you designed
    Her Hair by Federico Rodriguez Morice
  • 9.
    • MTV Flux : allows users to create a homepage to upload clips, music or pictures, which will then be shown on a TV
    • Angel Gambino ( vice-president of commercial strategy and digital media at MTV Networks UK ):
    • Created the user-generated content platform so that their audience has more control over what they see and are able to create content of their own
    • There is also a programme to assist students who want to get involved in TV and video production
    • Gambino says, "Ours is a business in transition. Our core business is still TV, but we acknowledge that our audience is spending its time in different ways."
  • 10.
    • wePC from Intel and Asus: launched in Oct 08
    • Design the world’s first community PC
    • Because “the spark for innovation can come from anywhere" - Mike Hoefflinger ( general manager of Intel's Partner Marketing Group )
    • Feasible ideas: more powerful batteries, less shiny screens, and lighter overall weight
    • Slightly less so: a durable notebook that was waterproof with a "nighttime look to glow in the dark“
    • The way out: no buttons and screen for a virtual reality experience, and telepathic communication that relies on sensing brainwaves
    • And the bizzarre: "I like the idea of a laptop that has hair on it. You can than cut said laptop's hair to your liking."
    Laptop design from Korea
  • 11. But crowds can be dumb
    • Monica Hamburg: Consensus does not always equal correctness
    • James Surowiecki (Wisdom of Crowds): ants become smarter as the number of collaborators increases, humans become dumber
    • Kathy ( headrush blog ): there is a difference between collective intelligence and dumbness of crowds
    • Collective Intelligence: getting input and ideas from many different people and perspectives.
    • Dumbness of Crowds: blindly averaging the input of many different people, and expecting a breakthrough
    • Collective Intelligence: the Threadless community voting and discussing t-shirts designed by individuals
    • Dumbness of Crowds: expecting the Threadless community to design t-shirts together as a group
  • 12. So, what’s to be done?
    • To be successful, individuals need to retain their identity within the crowd
    • Individuality is to be nurtured and not shouted down
    • Forcing collaboration can handicap your project from the start
    • You need to create the right conditions for your crowd to collectively be smarter than all of the individuals
    • Which is hard
  • 13. So …
    • Avoid ambiguity: be very specific about what you want from the crowd
    • Provide some background information if you think it will help, but don’t flood your crowd with unnecessary information either
    • Monitor the crowd, but don’t dictate to them
    • Let them assume responsibility for the project
    • But watch out for Group-Think (where good people make bad decisions for the sake of conformity) – Nazis anyone?
    • Target the right crowd – not everyone can solve nuclear physics problems and not everyone is interested in designing shoes
    • Don’t expect miracles
    • Jeff Howe says that crowds produce mostly crap, but that occasionally you find some gems
    • He’s right, especially about the crap part
    • Rob May says that you need to provide incentives and choose those incentives wisely – they have to have meaning to the crowd and different crowds will value different things
  • 14. Remember
    • Crowds tend not to make smart business decisions
    • They like things that are cool, or new or interesting or that appeal to their sense of fun
    • So, you need to steer them in the right direction
    • Subtly encourage appropriate leaders to emerge
    • You can appoint leader, but do this carefully
    Such as a punching kit for girls and a wearable sleeping bag. Pointless but cool .
  • 15. Finally
    • Crowd sourcing works …
    • … But you have to know how to use it
    • Develop a strategy
    • Don’t wing it
    • Get over yourself and relinquish control
    • Trust your audience, they know what they want and will exercise a form of peer control to get it
    • But for goodness sake, monitor them
    • Or else …
  • 16.  
  • 17. Resources
    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowdsourcing
    • http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/jul2006/id20060713_755844.htm
    • http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_39/b4002422.htm
    • http://www.onedegree.ca/2008/01/crowdsourcing-1.html
    • http://www.businesspundit.com/the-business-experiment-what-i-learned-about-the-limits-of-peer-production-wisdom-of-crowds-and-other-web20-philosophies/
    • http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.06/labor.html
    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User-generated_content
    • http://www.brandrepublic.com/bulletins/digital/article/589413/usergenerated-content-uncovered-power-people/
    • http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2007/01/the_dumbness_of.html
    • http://www.zdnetasia.com/news/hardware/0,39042972,62047758,00.htm