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Crowdsourcing: A Definition

  • I like to use two definitions for crowdsourcing:

    The White Paper Version: Crowdsourcing is the act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call.

    The Soundbyte Version: The application of Open Source principles to fields outside of software.

The Rise of Crowdsourcing

  • Read the original article about crowdsourcing, published in the June, 2006 issue of Wired Magazine.
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December 22, 2006

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Mark Harmel

How the anti-copyright lobby makes big business richer

UK Photojournalist Sion Touhig's views on how the Croudsourcing and Citizen Journalist trend is shifting money from the professional photographer to the pockets of big media companies.


We're continually being told the Internet empowers the individual. But speaking as an individual creative worker myself, I'd argue that all this Utopian revolution has achieved so far in my sector is to disempower individuals, strengthen the hand of multinational businesses, and decrease the pool of information available to audiences. All things that the technology utopians say they wanted to avoid.

The full story is in the Register
http://tinyurl.com/ybncun

Alan

Interesting link Mark, overall I would say that most points were well made. The main thrust “Such a move dishonestly offers a false 'interactivity' between the publisher and audience, shows contempt for readers by assuming they'll accept rubbish, and adds insult to injury by encouraging them to produce the very stuff they'll be seeing - and paying for nothing” was certainly how I see it although the quality of interactivity must surely be in the experience of the participant.

False, yes on the part of the publisher because moral fortitude is missing, replaced by economic and political imperatives.

I have a great deal of sympathy for freelance professional photographers but the title of the piece also supplies an answer.

Where is the relationship/trust between management and those who are doing high quality work? “It's a race to the bottom, and is a fundamental failure by publishers to invest in their businesses for their readers benefit.”

Just look at the Chicago Sun Times or the Tribune, not even to mention the Red Eye give outs, not even a race, they have arrived and it’s a tie. They are churning out mostly rubbish and the readers are excepting it!

Another great shift is upon us and failure to invest in quality is the reality that has become manifest in most relationships between employer and employee, Citizen Journalist’s or not. Do we get what we deserve? Most traditional media, in my mind at least, has lost its shine. Specifically conceived and designed to reach a very large audience it has gone the way of “canned” food, lost its taste, not very nutritional, requires little preparation, full of sweeteners and detrimental to body soul and spirit. Alan.

Alan

Well Mark, Reuters are joining you all together in this blurb that teases amateurs to think they can hobnob with the best “Reuters news reaches over one billion people around the world each day. Join our award-winning photographers to share the events that matter to you,” the highest form of virtual chumminess available?
http://today.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage.aspx?type=youwitness&src=cms

So all one needs is a cell phone to become an I-Reporter? When are we going to see the first CV with I-Reporter on it?

“Submissions from I-Reporters numbered in the tens of thousands in 2006”: http://www.cnn.com/exchange/ but I can tell you there is going to be no I-Photo union members anytime soon.

But once you click send, if you have not read the terms of use, you lose every thing but your wife and children.

TERMS OF USE FOR SUBMITTED MATERIAL
http://today.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage.aspx?type=youwitness_terms&src=cms

LukePDQ

Interesting comments from Mark and Alan above.
The real killer dimension to the negative aspects of crowdsourcing is in Alan's link to Reuters T's & C's for amateur I-Reporters.
It's a triple whammy, folks.
1. Reuters get freelance speculative inputs (for free) to choose "best in breed" or best "fit for purpose" to use a paid professional's terms of reference for quality and topicality.
2. Reuters can pick and choose suitable material and photographic images at no revenue risk or cost overhead.
3. Reuters get to own and keep Copyright and irrevocable publishing rights AND re-licencing revenues for EVER.

That's why crowdsourcing is in danger of dumbing down the paid professional's marketplace and earning power.

The upside? Maybe an amateur gets the chance to turn professional? Oh, I forgot - the marketplace is getting too small to support yet more paid professional reporters and photographers.

A win-win solution would be for companies like Reuters to pay professional rates when selecting words or images for publication. Then, crowdsoursing would have a real incentive.

Alan

Here is an interesting link that caught my attention:
“It was a tough year for the world's largest stock distributor. “Will "crowd-sourcing" the Getty collection create a better image library, a worse library or just a bigger one?”
http://www.stockasylum.com/text-pages/articles/a5wn122006-review-06.htm
Alan.

Jeff Howe

Thanks guys for a lot of really valuable commentary, and thanks Mark for throwing out the link.
@Mark: After reading Sion's piece I wondered if you were seeing the same dramtic fall in prices. When I reported the original crowdsourcing piece there wasn't yet the sort of wholesale fall in unit prices that Sion describes. Has the situation worsened so over the last 10 months?
@Alan and LukePDQ: I'm less inclined to share Sion's unequivocal rejection of citizen journalism. For one, I don't think it's always so shabby; I don't think that the average reader expects to find rubbish in their paper or magazine; and I do think that this new relationship is valuable in its own right, and not an example of "false interactivity." But Sion's point that the new economics of intellectual property are putting the screws to (professional) photographers is indisputable, and lamentable. Unlike Sion, I don't think the media outlets are to blame -- in publishing greater amounts of content from their readers they're only reflecting the nature of online publishing (and belatedly at that). Like Sion, I sympathize with the real world consequences of the development. And folks, the disruption has only begun. (And, fwiw, professional journalists could well be next on the firing line.)

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