(the music looping in the background is from a song by Boston-area singer/songwriter Phil Ayoub).
The live blog will begin in just a few hours at this url, stay tuned for updates.
Update: 18:55 Arriving at the Network Hub I took a seat near the back, by the window, and watched as some familiar faces filled the room. David, Nancy, Isabella, Colleen, Narvey, Tanya, Gus, and the folks from Meme Labs.
Photos will be appearing under my Flickr tag: ThirdTuesday.
Update: 19:10 Thanks to the Network Hub for providing the space this evening, man this chair is comfortable!. I just met Gregg Scott, one of my Twitter contacts.
Update: 19:15 Monica is up, ‘crowdsourcing‘ is the topic. She just asked me jokingly to make her sound a little more intelligent in the live blog, but I don’t think my words here will do her speech justice at all really. Monica explains crowdsourcing for business as opening up the playing field in terms of communications from the company, as well as clients and the general public. “Sometimes the comments on a blog post are just as interesting as the post’s content,” affirms Monica. She gives examples of crowd-powered sites, a big one being the whole Wikipedia network and moves on to the music industry with Sell A Band.
Sell A Band’s tag line is “You are the record company”, giving power to the artists and the fans – allowing them to contribute to the band’s success and funding. On to movies, there’s NetFlix which also involves user and viewer reviews. One more site is Threadless, which encourages you to be creative, they simply help deliver the good created by the masses. Personal note – all of these open concepts for funding, coding, sharing of ideas and formulas reminds me of the topics covered at today’s Open Web (my day is rounding out quite nicely).
Update: 19:30 Another example of crowdsourcing is getting your consumers to find the solution for you – using the collective intelligence using a “solvers and seekers” method. (Side note from me: huge example of crowd-sourced advertising is the Canucks Ultimate Fan contest where they got fans to submit videos and photos to become a part of the season’s advertising campaign).
Monica mentions motivations – a) here’s some money now do something b) “people will do better inherently if they’re genuinely interested in the problem,” … “Passion is far more important.” Also, “it’s essential to reward people,” reward people adequately – don’t think of crowdsourcing as free labour and free promotion.
“People want to feel connected – they want to feel like they’re a part of a community,” says Monica. My own example, if you love toothpaste, why not talk about toothpaste and getting it out of that damn tube with other toothpaste enthusiasts? Why then wouldn’t the toothpaste company want to pay attention to your community?
Update: 19:35 Failures. Watch for a lack of leadership, the too many cooks issue, be organized, have editors. Crowdsourcing is considered a “beautiful failure” by its creators at Wired.
“My big pet peeve about crowdsourcing is crowdsourced books. It’s not because they don’t work, they just suck,” remarks Monica. Everything seems over processed, over chewed, and there’s no single voice.
Update: 19:40 “He who writes the minutes of the meeting, controls the outcome of the meeting.” Keep things on track but don’t censor. Be really open to feedback – if you ask for opinions from people then ignore them, well that just doesn’t work. Be transparent as well, open up but you don’t need to reveal all. Give people very clear ideas about what they’re going to get from the exchange. Example, Threadless – if you design a shirt, here’s what percentage you’ll take home from sales.
Also, be sure to target the right audience – is your main demographic even online? Do they trust social media?
Problems. “Once you value something at a low amount, that becomes problematic,” says Monica in regards to exploitation. “90% of everything is crud,” which is an interesting quote which reminds me of Barcamp 2006! Crowdsourcing isn’t short turn. Monitor, pay attention, nurture the baby, it can’t run on its own. It’s also not the answer to everything.
With crowdsourcing, social media is crucial. Blogs, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter etc. that helps navigate people to and from your goal. Passion: People need to have a reason to engage. Community: Like-minded consumers and users need to be nurtured. Respect: Be transparent, communicate, and offer rewards.
Update: 19:50 Question period. First question is from Raul who thinks Wikipedia is crap when it comes to reliable information. Monica admits it’s not the be all and end all, but it is useful and folks should do their own proper research, “it’s good for what it is.” The discussion moves from the ethics of the wiki to a note by Rastin who says aside from a lack of leadership causing the failure of the practice, a lack of coordination can have the same detrimental effect.
Update: 20:00 From the audience, getting there first isn’t as important as getting your content out there for your audience. Take your time and do it right. Watch out for information and content overflows/floods. On another note, Bruce makes an excellent point from the audience that the “reward” a lot of people are looking for is CREDIT.
Are there any tips on how to start, how to get that crowd? First, find people who are already in a community, for example those who already blog about something specific. My personal example, want to crowdsource those toothpaste enthusiasts? Find dentist user groups, pro-dental Facebook groups, dentist bloggers, etc. that’s a start. Colleen’s example is releasing an infant version of your application and opening it up by invitation for people to test, try, submit reviews, help with the code, open up the code, and be a part of creating the final product.
Primitive forms of crowdsourcing? Monica brings up the image of a WANTED poster from the old west which transformed into “America’s Most Wanted” and relying on the populace to produce for your cause.
Update: 20:20 Big thanks to the organizers, the creator of Third Tuesday who is in the room, Tanya, Monica for the GREAT talk, and the Network Hub.
Update: Thank you to everyone who entered the contest for the gift card. Above is photographic evidence of Monica drawing the winning card, which belonged to Gus from Marketwire – congrats Gus!