Collective Wisdom

This week is my week to present again, and I will be talking a great deal about crowdsourcing. I am definitely enjoying learning more about the uses of crowdsourcing and its evolution since the term was coined by Jeff Howe. Luckily, because I’m saving up for the presentation, this is going to be relatively brief — for me, at least.

Two articles that I hadn’t already read were “Jamming for a Smarter Planet” and “When the Media Meet Crowds of Wisdom”. The idea behind jamming — or brainstorming through online conversation — fascinated me. Again it harks back to last week’s discussion on social echo, where listening and getting involved in conversations is the key. Jamming gives those closest to a particular topic opportunities to discuss the topic/problem/challenge in an open forum of similar experts. The 2009 Smarter Planet University Jam conducted by IBM came up with some intriguing and viable ideas for issues facing college students today.

Of course, I was most fascinated by the ideas on education and the “T-shaped” student, who shows deep knowledge in one discipline and broader knowledge in others. This is actually the idea espoused by the UF College of Journalism when I was an undergrad in the early 1990s. Today’s T-shaped students are met with even greater demands, which is why they recommended interdisciplinary education, a web-based repository of resources, interconnected campuses, and the idea of “give back”. With so many technological advances and resources already available to today’s students, education at all levels needs to keep up, and what better way to exponentially increase learning than increasing significant discussions on a global level.

That is also the idea behind media shifts in our culture. News spreads lightning fast and traditional reporting methods are slow and dated. I first started noticing changes in journalism when papers started to flail and then television news started soliciting news photos and story ideas from viewers. Now it is not uncommon for non-journalists to report and comment on news events in official media outlets, for alternative media to increase in market share, and for access to experts to allow for greater depth in understanding at faster rates.

I do think there is power in the crowd, and that it can be beneficial overall. But there is also need for filtering that information that is so readily available. What do you see as the negative effects of crowdsourcing the news? How about crowdsourcing in general?

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4 thoughts on “Collective Wisdom

  1. Nice post, Shannan. I look forward to your presentation (although I’ll be watching a recording since I’ll be mid-flight during class).

    I think that crowdsourcing overall is a good thing. It has opened up the door for little known artists to reveal their talent on the world stage. If you take a look at the top designers of 99designs, they are usually young designers who haven’t even entered the workforce. In many cases they don’t have degrees in the design domain. However, because crowdsourcing let’s your work speak for you, it has allowed people to enter domains that would usually require an expensive art degree. I think in this sense it is positive, though, I’m sure there are lots of pitfalls too.

  2. I agree with Naseem that crowdsourcing has definitely opened up great opportunities for designers and amateur photographers. It has its negative side though. For many professional designers, its hard to compete with these uprising sites that will sell work for cheap and doesn’t calculate the hours a designer has to put it to create a finished product. I think it is a double edged sword but from my standpoint, the positives outweigh the negatives.

  3. Shannon I definitely think crowdsourcing sometimes takes away from the originality of ideas. Nowadays I feel like everyones everything kind of looks the same. BUT the amount of information we’re able to obtain from the sharing of ideas in open forums is amazing. It’s not always the most accurate information but it allows our minds to take in different objectives so much more than we have in the past.

  4. I agree that originality suffers at times, but the amount of information and idea sharing – and the rate – are definitely amazing. I was thinking about this the other day. The internet allows people to isolate themselves to a certain degree, but also gives people opportunities to converse with more people on so many more things.

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