I’m really excited about a new name and a new set of Web tools for collecting and mining the collective knowledge and wisdom of the online community – “crowdsourcing.” People were crowdsourcing long before the Web, of course, but only with people they knew or knew of. Now we’re all wired into the conversation, and where cynics might expect 100% Babel we often find flashes of brilliance.
One of the first formal applications of online crowdsourcing – Assignment Zero – is an experiment in journalism. Until the rise of Web 2.0, journalism was a tightly restricted medieval craft guild that monopolized the practice of newsgathering and reporting. Its motto: “And that’s the way it is,” always delivered in the weighty baritone of TV anchor certainty. Assignment Zero, a collaboration between Wired magazine and a New York University journalism professor, Jay Rosen, is smashing the palace gates to let amateurs get their hands on the means of news production & news distribution to see what happens.
You know journalists: the most fascinating stories they encounter are found in the mirror. So it’s not totally surprising that the first crowdsourced story Assignment Zero is tackling is…(wait for it) crowdsourcing.
Assignment Zero has set up a online newsroom where citizen-journalists interested in reporting on crowdsourcing – and several other topics – can get oriented, hear a pep-talk from the editor, and choose an assignment from among the many sub-stories that, put together, make up the whole story. Professional editors will monitor the reporting, then wrap the best material into one large, coherent report. As the metas metastasize, Wired will then run a feature article on the Assignment Zero experiment, using material crowdsourced by the amateur experimenters themselves. Whew.
Here’s why I’m excited about the intersection of Goodstorm and crowdsourcing: as I said in my last post, launching Goodstorm got me thinking a lot about the nature and properties of good. Last time I kicked around some thoughts on the spiritual and metaphysical nature of good, but those aren’t the parts of good that I’m most interested in.
I’m trying to put together an actionable guide to being good that redefines and refreshes “good” the way Goodstorm is redefining and refreshing “capitalism.” We’ve got to take back the power and meaning of our words.
Real capitalism isn’t oligopoly (hear that, Halliburton?), and real good isn’t some watery broth of pop psychology and comfort food for the soul. Real good(ness) has the power to save lives and make a difference in the world. It’s a power that’s re-emerging on a global basis – thank goodness. We are part of that process.
So here’s an invitation to crowdsource the art of good. Help Goodstorm fight for the highest meaning of good with the greatest power of all: ideas that work. I’m looking for the wisdom of our crowd when it comes to active ideas for being a good friend, a good spouse/lover/partner, a good pet owner, a good businessperson, a good investor, a good shopper, a good farmer, a good driver, a good citizen…of a community, a country, the world.
I’ll be posting great ideas I come across, and great ideas and commentary sourced from the wise & generous Goodstorm crowd. As someone said, we are smarter than me.
(In addition to being a great sound bite, We Are Smarter Than Me is a crowdsourced book-in-progress on how the emergence of community and social networks will change the future rules of business.)