Raise your hand if.......

you've ever heard of crowdsourcing.


Oh no....... you were just stretching........

Well, I had to do a little extra reading on the matter to feel like I had a better understanding of just what this "crowdsourcing" encompassed exactly. Did i fully achieve that? NO. But I have at least a working understanding of it, which, it seems to me is all anyone else really has either.

And that's because the term is so new (2006), it's really just settling in. The concept, however, is far from new. It's just that now it seems to be reaching a crescendo. Wikipedia (which I'm glad I can reference in an informal setting, if not a more academic one, and get away with it) noted that the Oxford English Dictionary was put together by a form of crowdsourcing by soliciting volunteer definitions of thousands of words on pieces of paper - in the 1800s.

What's confusing about defining crowdsourcing is figuring out what qualifies, and why. It's not mere volunteerism, as it appears. And even that could lead to some form of compensation, depending on the arrangement. Neither does it preclude upfront compensation (though I'm sure that's rare; it certainly limits the scope of the net you could cast).

Whatever it is, i'm certain we'll be seeing more of it, particularly as companies are crunched for resources, and the access to "human capital" has never been greater. It's just smart really.

There are certainly some ethical and moral concerns, along with more practical ones for the entities concerned, as sometimes these attempts backfire and end up costing them more than they otherwise would've had they simply hired qualified individuals to oversee and carry out a particular task.

Speaking of Wikipedia (since we can, freely, in this type of setup), I can think, immediately, of no greater success in "crowdsourcing" (Can I stop putting that in quotations? I feel like I still should, for some reason). And yet, their founder, Jimmy Wales (cousin of Sarah Barracuda) is averse to the term.

Here's the exchange:

Q: Do you worry people will suddenly decide they don't want to contribute for free and demand to be paid?

A: We haven't seen anything remotely like that ... because it's fun. One of my rants is against the term "crowdsourcing," which I think is a vile, vile way of looking at that world. This idea that a good business model is to get the public to do your work for free - that's just crazy. It disrespects the people. It's like you're trying to trick them into doing work for free.

What you're really in the business of is providing a nice place for people to come and do what they want to do. We're going to use advertising to build this social place, and people will come only if we provide them with tools and the social environment they need to have fun. If the by-product of that is some amazing work, that's great, too.

Wow captain bullshit! You've really convinced me.........

Anyone else?

Thank-you, Reader's Digest

For this wonderful bit on marketing, to help folks sort it all out:

"If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying 'Circus Coming to the Fairground Saturday,' that's advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk him into town, that's promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor's flowerbed, that's publicity. If you can get the mayor to laugh about it, that's public relations. And if you planned the elephant's walk, that's marketing."

In keeping with our lesson in this week, I might add this:

"And if you filmed the elephant doing all of the above, and posted it on, that would be viral marketing."

Viral marketing is interesting in a number of ways, perhaps most of all, for the fact that many times, people don't even seem to realize they're being marketed to when they are. And yet, the desired effect is still attained. Many times these campaigns fail. But what is "failure" really? Is it not becoming a youtube phenomenon? Not having your "advergames" become the next great success?

Those expectations are perhaps too lofty, though they should be aspired to all the same. But the real measure of success can be found in things like checking hits, frequency, and so forth. The other intriguing thing about viral marketing (which makes it intriguing on the marketers' end as well), is it's relatively low cost. With that in mind, it puts "failure" further into perspective. Where else could an advertiser spend so little with such great potential to turn that small investment into something bigger than superbowl commercials?

Speaking of commercials, our lesson focused on the viral campaign Burger King developed, and showed through commercials, of people "freaking out."

Now, I realize that there was some manner of success indicated with these commercials (as noted in our lesson), but, I personally thought they were crap. It neither made me interested in Whoppers, Burger King, or sitting through another one for 30 seconds I'd never see again. I'm not sure if these were the best "freakouts" they got from telling people they'd discontinued the Whopper, but they were, overall, pretty lame. And so really, they just came off looking fake (particularly considering that I recognized one of the "Burger King employees" as a comedic actor).

It could've worked though really; if they'd had some better freakouts. I'd have rather seen some manufactured ones, than the allegedly real ones they showed instead. I feel nauseous again trying to dissect how Burger King thought they were being so "edgy" with this campaign, and how they didn't even really get close enough to the edge to look over.

of week 2 - 2

More interesting ideas from week two, about the demise of traditional media........

Though we already mentioned radio, we need to go a little further into this. Someone pointed out that though radio will survive, in some format, that local broadcasts may be seeing their time coming to a close.

I can see that. Radio is suffering right now and, with the advent of satellite and internet radio, and greater ease of access to each (including on the go), with all the specialty programming that comes along with them, local radio just doesn't seem to have much of a chance.

But how local is "local" radio anyway? A lot of radio in local markets is actually corporately owned, and thus, in many markets, the programming is virtually the same. There are still some local elements which are important, but the "local radio" we know is largely a format that wouldn't be familiar to many of those in previous eras.

The Yellow Pages piqued my interest in this discussion, because I'd forgotten to even consider them.

But of all "traditional" mediums, their time may perhaps may be coming to a close sooner than any of the others.

At least, again, in their current format. While radio can essentially be "radio" in any of its formats, paper formats just don't seem to be the same beast once they've gone intangible. The Yellow Pages demise is greatly exaggerated: They will survive.

Just maybe not for much longer as actual pages.

I commented that I thought there would still be some smaller version thereof. In Morgantown, we already have that, along with the larger books, for quick reference. It may simply just morph into a phone book for business and perhaps government services and that sort of thing. Is there any reason really though that we need most everyone's phone number for reference though?

Not in an age where we can just as easily hop online and check out the same thing (and also where many simply have cell phones now, and not land lines; cell phone numbers they often keep private anyway). It's the same for businesses of course, but that's where the phone book, in a paper format, could still make some money with a smaller reference book, and survive.

For a while anyway.

of week 2

What did week two bring us?

[Un]timely news of the demise of certain traditional mediums.

As a newspaper man (sort of, I like to read them), I believed that newspapers, in their paper format, would eventually go.

It's difficult to forecast such things really. The demise of radio has long been predicted, but it just seems to dust itself off after each falloff, and kind of reinvent itself. Newspapers will do the same, transferring to a digital format, including one which will be off our computer screens and on a more paperlike portable screen which doesn't cause as much eye strain and mimics reading an actual paper as best it can.

I'll never prefer this mode of operations with a newspaper. At least, I doubt it. But I have to believe that kids growing up entirely in a digital/internet age, may even come to prefer it. We're all accustomed now to checking online for news, and I do it myself. Sometimes I prefer it over reading it out of a paper or magazine, but just for quick reference. But I'm accustomed to both ways and, as one might expect, just prefer the one I knew first and grew up with. Kids even now don't have to rely on the paper format; they can get whatever they want, in most instances (some online versions of papers aren't free though), right online. And I have to believe this will likely be the new way.

Though I don't believe major papers will follow suit for a long, long while, the Christian Science Monitor has recently announced that they're going entirely digital. I can understand that as it's more a nationwide publication, and not a local one, per se. So I don't think that's the first domino to fall. But it does look like it might be a sign of things to come.