The Actual Crowdsourcery Bit
February 02, 2010
smw_newyork on livestream.com. Broadcast Live Free
Goodness me isn't the world fast now?
Gandhi once said that
"There is more to life than increasing its speed"
and he was almost certainly right but I wonder what he would have made of twitter.
[See previous riff on diminished cultural latency for more on this seemingly glib insight.]
I've literally just left the salubrious agency environs of JWT NYC where I was chatting with some lovely people about crowdsourcing [see the post below for the illustrious people I got to sit with] for the edification of a larger group of lovely people, and the video of it is already online by the time I get back to my desk.
So, like, the event kind of gets distributed across time and space.
Well, not backwards in time, but you get what I mean.
[I was just watching a bit of this - because I'm really vain and that - and it reminded me that I repeatedly rail against the idea that crowds are inherently wise, and therefore crowdsourcing is awesome.
As I say up there in video form, I think the fact that Jeff Howe's Crowdsourcing and James Surowieki's book The Wisdom of Crowds came out around the same time iun 2004 caused some kind of associative conflation, where by crowds are wise, so if you source crowds, that's wise.
Despite my brilliant dismantling of this fallacious idea -
[pointing out that in the book crowds are only wise in VERY SPECIFIC CIRCUMSTANCES, usually guessing numeric means, when the crowd can't communicate with itself to cause information cascades, and mostly for guessing the weight of bulls.
- it kept coming back up, not just because no one was listening to me but because it's that kind of idea, one that is ripe for misuse.
It's not that I don't think crowdsourcing can be awesome - of course it can, whatever it actually is, - but the logic flow crowds=wise therfore crowdsourcing = awesome is nonsense.
No one is smarter than everyone, that's definitely true.
[although we really need everyone to CATCH UP and show Steve Jobs that this is true]
But as Agent K in Men In Black says:
A person is smart, people are stupid.
[Also see your high school essay entitled The Role of the Mob in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, for more on this idea]
There isn't something intrinsically BETTER about leveraging crowds - like everything it depends on what you are trying to do and other context.
But, if being inclusive, or engagement, or advocacy or other stuff like that is part of what you are trying to achieve, then there is something intrinsically better about crowdsourcing is, because then the process is also the product.
Research done with 1 million Facebook fans is marketing.