New School: Crowdsourcing 101


At a recent meeting, Trebor Scholz, curator of the Institute for Distributed Creativity mailing list (IdC), host of collective.net and organizer of the Internet as Playground and Factory Conference, kindly invited me to give a brief talk at an undergrad class he teaches at the Eugene Lang College of New School University. So while I was in NYC I dropped in to discuss with his students questions of crowdsourcing vs wisdom of the crowds. Also, I had the pleasure of learning a lot about Wikipedia from Joseph Reagle, who wrote both his PhD thesis and a book about Wikipedia, and talked about leadership in the Wikipedia context. (Great stuff!)

For completeness’ sake, here’s my presentation, but it’s really quite basic:

Call to action: Help me with a panel on European Social Media (by Friday)


I need your help. A few hours ago I was contacted by Robin Grant of UK-based social media agency We Are Social, who told me he could not make it to his own talk at SXSW this Saturday, and could I step in. Speaking at SXSW seems like a pretty big thing to me (hey, it’s SXSW!), so I was hesitant at first, but of course curiosity won in the end. So I’ll be filling in for Robin at this talk:

Lost In Translation: The Nuances Of European Social Media ( Saturday, March 13 at 12:30 PM).

The original announcement:

Europe is ahead of the US in terms of the consumer usage of social media, and yet little attention is often given to the nuances of what is on one hand is the world’s largest economy and on the other a collection of 48 countries with very different cultures. Find out why the blogging scene in Paris is 2 years ahead of the US, the Brits are all a Twitter, the Dutch prefer Hyves to Facebook and the Germans will take any chance to give brands a hostile reception in social media.

For obvious reasons I have no time to really prepare anything, but I’d love to take your collective knowledge about European Social Media into the conversation. Now here’s what I’m asking you: send me your inspiring examples, stats, ideas and thoughts on the topic. Whatever you see fit, let me know about it, and I’ll try to work it in. Help a fellow geek out!

Best way to get in touch about this is via email (peter@thewavingcat.com) or Twitter (@thewavingcat). Thanks, thanks and thanks!

Spot.us plans expansion beyond Bay Area


The Nieman Lab covers the planned expansion of Spot.Us, a really interesting and pioneering project in crowdsourced crowdfunded journalism. At this time, where everybody is discussing potential models for journalism to survive (or be funded), Spot.us takes an innovative approach. By the looks of this interview, it’s going well. Hopefully that’s not only true for the Bay Area…

Spot.Us, the non-profit experiment in journalism funded by readers, plans to expand beyond San Francisco by the end of summer, founder David Cohn tells me in the interview above. Seattle and Los Angeles are the most likely candidates for the site’s next iteration, and in the longer term, Spot.Us is looking to the east coast as well.

Read the rest of the story over at Nieman Lab…

In case you aren’t familiar with Spot.Us, here’s a video briefly explaining the basics:

Spot.Us – Community Funded Reporting Intro from Digidave on Vimeo.

Video sources: (1) Nieman Lab, Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. (2) David Cohn / Digidave, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0.

The sun is Constantly Setting (watch it)


Out of Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino‘s lab comes Constant Setting, a beautiful Flickr-based mashup. Constant Setting shows us photos (released under Creative Commons, tagged on Flickr with sunset and a location), from those places where the sun is setting right now. So what happens is, you get to see a never-ending flow of sunset photos from all over the world, following the sun setting around the globe. Beautiful – make sure to switch to full screen!

Constant Setting, image courtesy Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino Image: Constant Setting, courtesy Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino

Constant Setting was created by Alexandra D.S., D’Arcy Saum and Nick Chip. Read more on Alexandra’s blog, and don’t forget to watch the sunset.

Ameritocracy: Collaborative Fact-Checking


AmeritocracyIf there’s one thing the internet is pretty good at, then it must be crunching lots of info by having a lot of folks look at said info. Call it crowdsourcing or collaboration, if you need a great many eyes to look at stuff, and a lot of opinions, the web is the place to go. So here comes Ameritocracy, a community-based, collaborative fact-checking site.

How does it work? Users submit statements made by politicians, pundits and the like, other users (aka the community) puts in their two cents of background or opinion (hopefully facts, too) they have on those statements. A reputation system helps separate the wheat from the chaff.

As Ameritocracy describe it:

The core features of Ameritocracy are adding statements (made by a person or organization) and assessing statements. For example, if you hear Jane Doe say something on tv that you find questionable, you can submit that statement to the site to see what the community has to say about it, or you can add your own assessment. Members can then rate Jane Doe’s statement for credibility and relevancy, add their own assessments, or post a comment. From this, Jane Doe will develop a reputation based on the community ratings, and you and your sources will develop a positive reputation so long as no one identifies your submission as a misquote or deliberately inaccurate information. The goal is to get a few different perspectives for each statement, so anyone looking to know more about a statement can get a broader picture and make their own assessment.

Sounds like a solid plan to me. Any platform that helps bring more transparency into political processes can just be good. If it harnesses the intelligence of the network, all the better.

More info? IPDI‘s Julie Germany interviewed Ameritocracy co-founder Porter Bayne. The team behind Ameritocracy blogs and twitters, too.

(via Planblog)

Update: Want to check out Ameritocracy first hand? The Ameritrocracy team was so nice to provide my readers with a bunch of invites to the close beta. With the invite code “wavingcat” (one word, all lower case) you can sign up here.

Less bad product designs with redesignme.org


Redesignme (Flash, HTML) is a good implementation of a simple, but powerful idea: Users submit really bad product designs, then propose what could be done better and how.

That’s it.

But that’s pretty cool, too. After all, it’s the users who know about the bad usability and all the problems. It’s a pain to use? Chances are the users know better than the company. And not even the best-designed products are perfect.

Example? You don’t have to look at this horrible remote control for an unnecessary annoyance. Even the good ol’ iPod isn’t perfect.

Strangely enough, the Redesignme website doesn’t look all that great itself, but hey, maybe I’ll just submit a redesign. Or maybe you will?

(via kosmar)