Tag Archives: Business

“Crowdsourcing For Dummies” Released

29 May

Image © 2013 Daily Crowdsource

The title says it all. With the release of “Crowdsourcing For Dummies”, crowdsourcing now has its own entry in the popular “for dummies” series. Add this to the fact that crowdfunding is now enough of “a thing” to be parodied, and I’d say that crowdsourcing has officially and finally landed in the public eye. About time!

Daily Crowdsource is on the scene with details about the instructional book:

Over the past year, Daily Crowdsource writer, Crowd Leader, author, Professor, Crowdopolis speaker, & IEEE Computer Society President, David Alan Grier, has been compiling his knowledge in his latest publication, Crowdsourcing For Dummies. It’s a plain-English guide to help you understand crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, & open innovation.

I’m excited about this release because I’ve been communicating with Grier throughout the writing cycle & know he’s put a lot of time into it. Here’s what his latest book will teach you:

  • Plan and launch your crowdsourcing project
  • Find the right platform for your needs
  • Promote your project and attract the right audience
  • Manage and motivate your crowd to get the best results

David Allen Grier is a leader in the field and highly influential when it comes to the topic of crowdsourcing, so the fact that he’s the driving force behind this book makes me very confident about the accuracy of the information contained within. I’m undoubtedly going to pick up a copy as soon as I get my next paycheck. If you’re a fan of this blog, consider the same.

WeGoLook Will Scope Out Anything Before You Buy

3 Aug

Out of the blue, I received a Tweet from WeGoLook.com, telling me about their platform because they thought I’d be interested. Well, they got my number; I looked at their setup, and it’s pretty freaking cool.

WeGoLook

WeGoLook is essentially a research service run by crowdsourcing. Their aim is to provide detailed reports of items, places, or people to potential buyers, so they don’t waste their time and money on a product/outcome that is less than desirable. The crowd is composed of “Lookers” across the nation who, when they receive requests, will personally trek out to wherever they product or place is. They answer some objective questions, take pictures of the object and any relevant labels or product numbers, and give details on the working condition and appearance of the item.

This seems simple until you consider the wide range of activities this could be applied to:

  • check out a new apartment halfway across the country before you move
  • make sure the guy selling you a laptop on Craigslist isn’t ripping you off
  • get reports on every car dealership in town to find the lowest prices
  • check the condition of a house or town after a storm

Heck, you can even send a Looker to check out a potential date to make sure they look like they do on their dating profile picture. Borderline morality, of course, but you can bet there are people who will want to take advantage of this service.

The sample reports on the website give a good idea of what the service will provide. Something I liked is that WeGoLook vigorously screens its Lookers to make sure they’re reliable. This makes sense; for a service like this, report accuracy is something to live and die by. And for people who don’t have a need for the service itself, being a Looker could be a pretty sweet deal. With payment for reports starting at $25 and reports assigned based on geographic proximity, you could get paid pretty well for a ten-minute drive.

The downside of this service is that its utility isn’t as accessible as I would like. Turnaround on reports is 2 to 3 days, but there’s no guarantee it will even happen in that time. And the $50 price tag on even the most basic reports is steep; I understand it’s probably to make sure there’s enough incentive to make the Lookers happy, but for that money the service is best used only for expensive or important things. And while WeGoLook offers many useful extra services, I can’t understand why measuring an object’s dimensions is an extra $8 instead of coming standard.

The bottom line is that whether you’re on the buying or selling side of WeGoLook, it’s worth looking into. The service can put your eyes, ears, and a voice anywhere in the country, and it shakes off the technological limitations of internet research by supplementing it with real-world knowledge. I’ve already applied to be a Looker, and you can bet that my next major purchase will be thoroughly scoped out by this service beforehand.

It Would Have Been a Great Story

14 Jun

I was supposed to have a great, full-length post for all of you today, but it turns out I was taken for a ride and my source was fake.

© 2005 Marvin Harrell ~ stock.xchng

It’s a true shame; it was a story about a major company (unnamed; they’re probably catching enough flack for this already) who launched a campaign asking users of their website to design a print ad for the chance to win a trip. Whoever developed this prank, or whatever it is, set up an entire site for submitting, viewing, and voting on these ads.

But as the submissions trickled it, it was clear that they weren’t going in the direction they were supposed to. This unnamed company has some pretty shady business practices, and the vast majority of the submitted ads called these practices into question in ways that wouldn’t be considered “kind” or “not heavy-handed”.

It would have been brutal if it was true. Imagine a company blindly launching a campaign without being aware of the general populace’s opinion of them. And imagine the campaign entirely involved having people plaster whatever message they want on a professional-looking ad with your company’s name and logo. It would have been a fiasco.

Unfortunately, the campaign was created not by the company, but by some outside force that opposed their politics. Further digging into the website proved it was all subtly tongue-in-cheek,  designed in such a way that it would only reveal itself as fake if you gave it more than a cursory glance.

So why was I taken in at first? Because this company wouldn’t have been the first one to make a mistake like this. A big aspect of crowdsourcing that continues to keep some companies away is the lack of control and privacy. When you host a contest like this, it does indeed become exceedingly important what the public’s opinion of your company is. If your company is controversial, crowdsourcing will provide you with messages that promote both sides of the issue. Unfortunately, there is usually one side that yells louder, and that’s the dissenters.

So is there a lesson we can learn from this? Crowdsourcing is best suited to companies that already have a large positive following. Will it completely stop situations like this? No, but a lot of consumers on your side certainly helps support the messages you’re actually trying to promote. Conversely, if your company is afraid of what the populace has to say about them… well, maybe they should reconsider how clean their hands are.

XKCD on Crowdsourcing

25 May

From xkcd.com:

We don't sell products; we sell the marketplace. And by 'sell the marketplace' we mean 'play shooters, sometimes for upwards of 20 hours straight.'

XKCD is always relevant, and this one struck me as especially poignant since it reflects my ultimate goal for crowdsourcing. Do you think the speaker realizes he is describing the death of his own job?

The Second-Best Swordsman; What GeniusRocket Is Doing Wrong

9 May

I’m not gonna beat around the bush with this one, kids. The ad-production company GeniusRocket claims to be a crowdsourcing agency, but they suck and you shouldn’t use them. Today’s lesson is about what crowdsourcing isn’t.

GeniusRocket - The First Curated Crowdsourcing Company

What crowdsourcing isn’t: Exhibit A

Cruise on up to that “What Is Crowdsourcing” tab at the top of the page, and scope the second paragraph. “Crowdsourcing involves taking a task that would ordinarily be completed by a hired individual or group, and instead hosting an open call for whoever wants to work on the task to do so.” GeniusRocket drops the ball right off the bat by using a “curated crowd“. From the site’s Community page:

“Every member of our community is vetted for their experience and expertise. As a result you won’t find amateurs or students. In other words, you won’t find people in our community that are trying break into the business by working on a client’s project.”

Red flags right there. By having such a stringent process for being a part of their crowd, GeniusRocket essentially takes away everything that makes a crowd a useful thing. This is a difficult concept to wrap one’s head around, but it’s called the Diversity Trumps Ability Theorem and it basically states that a varied group will outperform a group of experts every time. Mark Twain explained it best, if you’re willing to accept metaphor:

“The best swordsman in the world doesn’t need to fear the second best swordsman in the world; no, the person for him to be afraid of is some ignorant antagonist who has never had a sword in his hand before; he doesn’t do the thing he ought to do, and so the expert isn’t prepared for him.”

A group of experts, with the same talents, same education, and similar backgrounds, will always come up with the same ideas that they’ve been coming up with forever. A diverse crowd will offer a multitude of perspectives, which more often than not leads to breakthroughs and inspiration you simply won’t get from a homogenized group of professionals that have done the same thing, the same way, for their whole lives.

Pictured: Not The Crowd You Want Helping You

As a result, you’ve got a company that wants to have the advantages of crowdsourcing but is afraid of the risks, so the service they offer is simply the illusion of crowdsourcing. You’ll get varied ideas from different perspectives, if your definition of “varied” and “different” is actually “same as it’s always been”. And you don’t have to take my word for it; watch some of their ads. They’re terrible, pointless, or disturbing at worse and average at best.

Now, the platform is salvageable, but they need to make some big changes. Namely, they need to realize that by definition of both terms, there can be no such thing as a “crowdsourcing agency”. So hey, GeniusRocket execs, if you’re reading this: shoot me an email. Something has to change at your company and I’d like to help you with it instead of bitching about it on the Internet.

Facewatch: Crowdsourced Crimefighting Revisited

9 Apr
© Penny Matthews

© Penny Matthews

Do you remember that story arc in the Batman/Superman comic (#53-56) where they switched powers, and Batman went kinda nuts because he finally had the ability to fight every crime? No? It’s a good one, look it up.

My point is this: if Batman can’t be everywhere at once, the police definitely can’t. This is why we see platforms like iPaidABribe and the Syrian Sexual Assault Crowdmap; the crowd can be the eyes for the police and fill in where the normal service may not be enough.

This is the drive behind Facewatch, which seeks to reduce some of the petty crimes that business owners may experience. These crimes, the website claims, are small, committed serially, and recurring, meaning that they bleed the company over a long time and are very difficult to catch. Facewatch speeds up the process by allowing businesses to submit their crime evidence (victim statements, CCTV footage and stills) directly to the police instead of filing an official report and waiting.

After the victim reports the crime, Facewatch goes a few steps further to help ensure it is solved and won’t happen again. They circulate images of the perpetrator to local businesses and industry networks, since many criminals use the same tactics on multiple locations. For the victim, Facewatch provides an instant crime reference number for insurance, email updates about the status of the case, and a one-phone-call process to cancel and replace any stolen cards.

As the brand becomes more fleshed out, simply having a “Facewatch” sticker on an establishment’s window will deter crime. And while it’s great to see places like Africa, Syria, and India embrace citizen police work, it’s good to see it being applied to a context the average American can relate to a little more strongly. Anyone who has had their wallet lifted has wished there was a better way to recover it; now there is.

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