Crowdsourcing: public & participation

I choose the first case in Muthukumaraswamy’s article because the Brian Lehrer Show reminds me of a famous lifestyle website in China,, where the ordinary Internet audience can rate a restaurant, write reviews, give recommendations and so on. I think the WNYC case is a typical example of crowdsoucing and citizen journalism, if we don’t intentionally enclose journalism from a professional perspective.

SAFERstation discussed how the Brian Lehrer Show utilized crowdsourcing. Because WNYC is a public radio station, in the very beginning, I wondered how many people would virtually listen to this station in such a metropolitan area. However, as the SUV project is also available online, it can reach a great number of people as a result. SAFER’s article held the opinion that the WNYC project not only “assively open its website and accept any content submitted” but also “shared the Principle of Journalism” with its readers, providing guidance more or less. In my opinion, such a two-way information flow is an outstanding way to absorb wisdom of crowds in that they train people to perform professionally. Coincidentally, Ushahidi site was also mentioned in that article. The other part introduces emergent journalism, which is a hybrid that combines professional journalism and web-based citizen journalism, serving as good illustration of the power of crowdsourcing.

WNYC considers crowdsourcing as its field guide. The article Pushing buttons: covering charged topics deals with another mapping project: “to invite listeners to help us pinpoint sites they suspect of not being developed due to the recession”.

On the one hand, WNYC desires “the most diverse media entries”, which indicates that the project places increasing emphasis on various demographic features and cultural backgrounds. “After all, diversity of participants forms the very essence of a crowdsourcing venture” (p. 60). On the other hand, the article warns that staff should pay attention to maintaining the map to be manageable, since it is somewhat difficult to control the open map-editing process by individual. Therefore, how to tell and treat irresponsible entries?

Muthukumaraswamy summarized the status quo that “more and more people are replacing passive media consumption time with active media participation” (p. 58). The WNYC host, Brian Lehrer considers his talk show as “the direct connection to the local community” and he said “radio meant community to me”. An editor from Capitalnewyork analyzed the connection between user engagement and listener support. According to Gillian Reagan, building a sense of community by discussing local issues is of significance. That’s why the audiences are willing to participate in the mapping project with high-level engagement. When the listeners contribute to the project, they contribute to their block, their community actually, where they could also get benefits. A sense of belongingness is created, and such a connection can let people in and make the crowdsourcing strategy useful and successful.

I think Brian Lehrer Show is a good example under the subtitle “wisdom of crowds in general-interest reporting by recruiting a general audience” because the station locates its striking idea just in local communities. General-interest? Yes. Milk, lettuce, beer, vehicle, these are basic elements in our daily lives. General audience? Yes, they are from various blocks; they work in different industries. They are diverse. The project is for ordinary people and it doesn’t require glorious education or career background. It’s just for the average. The collection of specialists sounds less “crowd” though.

Merriam-Webster dictionary interpreted the word “crowd” as “the great body of people” and “a group of people having something in common”. This reminds me of common good that we discussed previously. Crowdsourcing achieves final success by collective efforts. WNYC just targets the crowd, involving their voice in and synthesizing valuable information back. It really represents what crowdsourcing means and how they actualize the strategy.



~ by luckymaggie on November 11, 2010.

3 Responses to “Crowdsourcing: public & participation”

  1. Comments for blog 11

  2. I think the Brian Lehrer Show does resemble, wow, I haven’t visited to that website for a while. I agree with you that “Brian Lehrer Show is a good example under the subtitle “wisdom of crowds in general-interest reporting by recruiting a general audience”. They don’t need audience with special skills, just those living in the blocks. It’s a good example of crowdsourcing.

  3. The crowd is a powerful tool if you know how to use them wisely. The Brain Lehrer Show is indeed a good case because it motivated the crowd in a desirable way. I am just amazed by how much people are willing to participate into projects like this. Of this particular case, I think the motivation is: getting involved in reporting the news that everyone cares about, especially those who don’t like SUVs. You also mentioned a very important disadvantage of using crowdsourcing which is, the information flow is unbalanced. You can only wait and hope people post their results on the website and the result is uncontrollable. So how to manage the crowd as well as the reliability of the information gained are all important issues in crowdsourcing.

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