I started this blog with the intention of bringing crowdsourcing to the masses. To do so, I knew I would have to uncover real-world examples of it that most people had interacted with. Today, I write to you because I have realized this goal; I found amateur pornography, PC gaming, and LEGO bricks.
Porn was a topic I wanted to discuss at one point or another on this blog, because I recognized that it was an industry that had whole-heartedly accepted crowdsourcing as one of their methods of production. Non-professional or amateur porn has been around almost as long as videography itself, and recently received a huge boon in the form of camera phones and user-uploaded content (“tube”) sites. This industry was quick to accept crowdsourcing as a form of content creation, when so many others have dragged their feet or actively resisted. Now, they enjoy the fact that they have tube sites like these to generate heaps of content at no personal cost, which helps offset their recent losses in DVD sales.
I sought other entities that had accepted crowdsourcing in the same way, and found the brick-building toy LEGO. Their integration was to a lesser degree, to be certain, but nonetheless multifaceted; their websites solicits pictures, ideas, and full-on schematics of any custom model their users have built. They even go so far as to have implemented the CUUSOO program, which takes popular user-created models and packages them as actual retail items that can be bought from the website or a real-world toy store. LEGO understands that even though they are primarily a children’s toy, they still have a not-insignificant portion of adult users who want to show off their creations. And so like porn, LEGO has recognized a need and made steps to fill it by utilizing user content.
And finally we have video games, who take on crowdsourcing in a limited, but more profound way. User-generated content is again the key here, this time in the form of “mods”. Mods are custom modifications that a user may make to a game they own that change the graphics, gameplay, maps, items, or just about any other aspect of the game. These mods are typically collected, shared, rated, and downloaded on community sites that are wholly or partly supported by the game publishers themselves. Games like Half-Life and Skyrim enjoy a massive community of modders, which not only adds to the game’s content but ensures that people will continue to buy it long into the future. Add to this the fact that there are other communities that simply program and release their own games to play, some of which are good enough to make it onto professional retail platforms like Steam or the Apple store. All in all, the gaming industry is one that is largely on-board with user-generated content.
So what is it about these industries that makes them so apt to bring their users into the fold, when so many others have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the world of crowdsourcing? The answer, which I will reveal next week, has implications that could mean a whole new approach to discovering which industries are ready to implement crowdsourcing. More importantly, it may reveal industries that are doomed to crowdsourcing failure before they even start. Tune in next week for Part 2: The Common Thread!