Since the rise of the internet, we have seen many new developments in all kinds of areas, such as social life and even big business. Essentially, the internet creates a network that makes it possible to connect with people all over the world, but there is a new age in the internet expands business possibilities to a whole new realm. Until the rise of the internet, businesses had to look to their staff to solve problems, produce ideas and create products. With the dawn of this new age however, businesses can release their problems to the world’s thinkers online and resolve issues faster than ever before. In addition, people can join together in various online collectives to form glorious online tools such as Wikipedia. So, how is this possible? These new online ideas are what is now known as crowdsourcing and participatory culture. To sum it all up in one simple manner:
There is also a fun and entertaining side to this new age in the internet that I personally enjoy a lot and I’m sure many of you do as well: Enter the hilarious world of memes and viral videos.
Memes and viral videos represent participatory because these things are being created by the people, for the people and not just by producers anymore. We see regularly every day people who happen to catch a hilarious moment on video “go viral” overnight. We now even see shows revolving around these videos such as “Ridiculousness” on MTV and as Jeff Howe shows us in his article The Rise of Crowdsurfing, shows such as these are significantly cheaper to produce thanks to the crowd producing endless amounts of videos.
So if this all seems like an awesome use of the internet, why is it debated on whether it is a good thing or not? While big business and even individuals benefit from the new age on the internet, there are also myths to crowdsourcing as well as pitfalls. For example, as Jeff Howe discusses in his article, there are business owners who fall victim. Enter Claudia Minashe. Claudie needed stock photos for a medical project coming up. After being quoted $600 by Mark Hamel, a professional stock photographer, for just 4 stock photos, she discovered iStockphoto, a stock photo website that sells stock photos for as low as just $1! Claudia made the obvious choice and saved money where she could, but in turn business owners like Hamel suffer a great loss. Many things that were once charged for, are now free or cost significantly less thanks to crowdsourcing and as Nicholar Carr tells us, “Free trumps quality all the time.”
There is also great myth to crowdsourcing, according to Dan Woods of Forbes. Woods explains to us that “…a problem is broadcast to a large number of people with varying expertise. Then individuals motivated by obsession, competition, money or all three apply their individual talent to creating a solution.” So there it is, another aspect to crowdsourcing. Many of these online problem solvers are everyday people, which can be viewed as good or problematic. Also, these people are out to solve these problems or get involved in these business like iStockphoto to make a profit with their skills in their free time. Further, he continues to show us that Wikipedia for example, may appear to be crowd-created, but it’s founder Jimmy Wales admitted “The vast majority (of entries) are the product of a motivated individual” and are later on corrected and improved by others. Furthermore, Chris Wilson shows us in The Wisdom of the Chaperone, that “about 1% of Wikipedia users are responsible for about half of the site’s edits” and that there are also online bots that monitor what is posted for errors, vandalism and obscene posts to ensure the site remains credible- Hence the myth of the crowd. While it may be true that the resolutions and works come out of a crowd, they aren’t produced by the crowd directly, but individuals rather.
After this display of benefits and downfalls, do you think that crowdsourcing benefits outweigh the fact that many jobs are being “crowdsourced?” Also, do you think that there is a true “myth of the crowd,” or are these efforts truly the commune that they appear to be?