Friday, July 27, 2007

Crowdsourcing and Assignment Zero

According to Wired Magazine, the results are in. Read the whole report on Assignment Zero here, or settle for my mish-mosh, which follows

Crowdsourcing, btw, is the idea that instead of paying a person, you can toss a job out to the masses and have them do it piecemeal, for free. Wikipedia is an example of world-wide crowdsourcing.

(To freelancers scrambling to somehow find paying work, crowdsourcing is a Very Bad Thing.)

However, crowdsourcing seems not to be the big ol' threat I initially feared. It just doesn't work that well for most projects.

Wired crowdsourced a story/report on crowdsourcing in January 2007. Now, as they tell it, the report is done. Lessons were learned that may facilitate crowdsourced projects in the future, but as for this experiment, called Assignment Zero:

In the 12 weeks the project was open to the public, it suffered from haphazard planning, technological glitches and a general sense of confusion among participants. . . . it might best be considered a highly satisfying failure. It fell far short of the original aim of producing over 80 feature stories, but in over a dozen interviews conducted by phone and e-mail, contributors uniformly described a positive, “though frequently exasperating,” experience.

Lest we write crowdsourcing off completely, though, article author Jeff Howe says he found, "at least three-quarters of the Q&As to be equal to or exceeding the quality of thought and insight found in any national magazine."

Ouch! Jeff, c'mon, a little loyalty to the profession might be nice!

One more quote: “Why are these people willing to work for free?” — Jay Rosen in Wired News, on the launch of Assignment Zero

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