And so it comes to an end. After more than six months Assignment Zero passed its final milestone today when Wired.com published my decidedly ambivalent assessment of the project. It was, as I wrote in the piece, a "highly satisfying failure." A few of my readers had asked me to enumerate exactly what elements failed and what elements succeeded. I think the Wired.com piece performs this task adequately, with one exception, raised by Daren C. Brabham in the same comments section in the above link.
I neglected to point out the degree of mission creep Assignment Zero suffered. As Daren points out, to the extent that exploring "crowdsourcing" was our mandate, that term came to become synonymous with everything Web 2.0. That's a terrible dilution of a process and methodology as rich, and precise, as crowdsourcing. As I noted in my June 28th post, the subject could more properly be called "cool forms of collaborative production on the Internet."
The sad fact is that being a buzzword, people tend to apply crowdsourcing to whatever new, nascent and exciting phenomenon they're attempting to define. As Daren suggests, a lot of work (and probably no small amount of bickering) will be needed to lasso that word and establish some quasi-permanent definition.
At any rate, I hope the Wired piece inspires more debate, on this blog and elsewhere.