Hale-freakin'luja! Crowd-sourcing revealed | unmasked!

Anchor for this item  posted Saturday, November 10, 2007 at 6:00 pm MST

"Can 'crowdsourcing' be slave labor?" (Nawwwwwww ... and the pope doesn't poop in the woods.)

"These initiatives typically tout the importance of companies creating new interactive relationships with their consumers in the digital age. But as Paul Boutin wrote in a recent BusinessWeek column, this concept of "crowdsourcing" is not necessarily utopian in all forms. The main reason is compensation--or, more accurately, the lack thereof."
thanks for this to the heads up at no-spec.com

If I was ram-rodding some cheapskate chiselling VC firm, I'd find some way of having a buncha bliss-ninnies brain-storm like some derainged ADHD-stricken focus group, keeping them happy by passing out balloons and offering free refills on the helium.

Gadzooks ... in the name of all that's holy, I really am not advocating cynicism, but something approaching self-esteem with an eye to realism and pragmatism!

Yes I am blowing off steam. I've been drop-kicking "on spec" work for years nae decades, so the "Oooh peachy keen lets cuddle-puddle our social capital and make out like lemmings" more than triggers my gag reflex.

On the other hand, to return to no-spec.com ... don't just think about it, do it!

Grab this here logo!

various logos

Pop into that site and read ... it'll do all of us a bit of good

On the third hand, following a link from one of my Behance.net circles: MathewBrowne.com on heh sanity in an insane world. Two must must must read posts by him:

* "Automated SEO Reciprocal Link Requests" ... not the stuff of humour, normally, but Matt huh huh had me cackling out loud.

* "Nightmare Web-Design Clients" ... nowhere near the haa-has, but a real fine start on something like a "best practices" list.

On that second subject, something I keyboarded elsewhere today:

practically all my substantial exchanges with clients (in a consulting capacity) have their impact recorded on the Work To Be Done document. (This is a variation on "Every action item must be accompanied by initials of whoever is responsible / has signed off / will act as anchor.")

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On Crowdsourcing... well, yes, perhaps the crowd (and the individuals therein) aren't directly compensated. That is the case in many of these, although there are other things than direct monetary compensation. That said, some of these systems, such as the way Threadless.com goes to market and rewards the crowd-chosen (largely) designers of t-shirts, is at least a few notches up from slave labor. Same with InnoCentive.com, in "crowdsourcing" heavy duty solutions to R&D problems, for the winning submitter.

But yes, just as others have said that Flickr, delicious, technorati, heck, even Amazon should perhaps be compensating all of us for uploading, commenting, tagging, reviewing, etc., since we ARE the secret sauce, that model would be hard to keep from being gamed, and hard to introduce, since we've trained ourselves to do it nearly automatically.

By Blogger Dan Keldsen, at Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 19:55:00 GMT-7  

"such as the way ... goes to market and rewards the crowd-chosen (largely) designers of t-shirts, is at least a few notches up from slave labor."
You figure? One t-shirt every coupla years seems slave-labour to me!

But how about if that "reward" is basis for acknowledgment of the legally-binding variety? Then I'd be a bit more nearly convinced.For the 107,999 ideas that go nowhere sure, have a draw and give out a dozen shirts. But for the 1 that strikes a chord? So far as I can tell the IP has been transfered. And I don't see folk often daring to grapple with that point.

"just as others have said that Flickr, delicious, technorati, heck, even Amazon should perhaps be compensating all of us for uploading, commenting, tagging, reviewing, etc., since we ARE the secret sauce"
I think that's reductio ad absurdum.

But arguendo let's go there: how about micro-payments?
How small a cheque does google cut with AdSense? $25 or something?
108,000 people each contributing say $10 worth of traffic ... but what about the person who's driving $50 every month or so?

So far as I can tell it comes down to folk not caring about the principle because they personally consider $50 so much pocket change.

'Course it's hard to design against gaming. And cars were a silly idea because their popularity would require a nation-wide grip of roadword. Which, let's face it, is just a silly idea. heh

By Blogger Ben, at Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 20:13:00 GMT-7  

Erratum: I thought Dan wrote "rewarded with a t-shirt" ... so I mistook his point considerably.

Yes, reward accorded to value actualized, just so!

By Blogger Ben, at Saturday, 1 December 2007 at 20:14:00 GMT-7  

Yep we had a slight stumble in the thread there. Threadless designers get paid quite well for the "winning" (by crowdsourced vote), and InnoCentive can and does easily pay out $10k and more on a regular basis.

But in general, yes, I hear you. There is something slightly creepy at times by the free (i.e., slave-labor) work being done in many quarters.

But there are many exceptions, so I'd hate to lump the whole "movement" in with the rest of the free-loaders.

Definitely needs some more awareness, and discourse. ;)

By Blogger Dan Keldsen, at Sunday, 2 December 2007 at 13:25:00 GMT-7  

@Dan - interesting that you brought up InnoCentive here ... it continues the thread I've been working today i.e. alternative business models.

Context: looking through material on Alfresco I find that, while it promotes itself as seriously OpenSource, it is far more closed than the deve communities in, say, SalesForce or FaceBook or NetVibes. I felt like I needed a battering ram to access documentation. (Registering as a developer will do the trick, but still ... odd to see their reticence.)

On the other hand, by way of contrast, I came across Automatic, who specializes in WordPress ... it seems that they're entirely distributed i.e. no bricks&mortar head office, but everybody draws against revenue.

Then reading about a new Drupal support startup, Acquia, I can't help thinking that a lot of hours are spent doing what others are doing, and wondering if there isn't a way of producing better results while reducing over-work.

So many people were so very busy, and pondered why collaboration wasn't lightening the load or leading to economies of scale.

I guess we've sequed into a discussion of "co-working"!

By Blogger Ben, at Sunday, 2 December 2007 at 13:40:00 GMT-7  

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