crowdsourcing

This tag is associated with 11 posts

BetterMeans: a new app for running your organization the open source way


Last week I received a heads up about a new web application launching today from a company called BetterMeans with an impressive goal: to build the infrastructure (processes, technology, governance, etc.) to make an open organizational structure like we talk about here on opensouce.com a reality.

From their website:

BetterMeans.com is a web platform where people can start and run companies in a new decentralized way.

- Teams self-form, self-organize, and self-manage using an issue-tracking tool
- There is no management class, only natural hierarchies.
- Leadership emerges organically by users earning other users’ confidence
- Compensation is based on contribution
- Strategy and ideas are crowd-sourced
- There’s full accountability and transparency. Relationships are built on trust.
- Ownership is distributed
- Capital allocation and decision-making are decentralized

If a traditional company was a network architecture, it would be client-server.

We’re building a platform for peer-to-peer companies that are more agile, resilient, and innovative.

The video below explains what they are doing and why.

[Read the rest of this post on opensource.com]

A community-building perspective on the Gap logo controversy


Over the last week, a handful of folks have reached out and asked me what I think about the events surrounding the launch, then crowdsourcing, then full repeal of the new Gap logo (if you haven’t already heard the story, catch up here).

Honestly, I’d been hesitant to comment at length, partially because so many articles were hitting the best angles already (take your pick of this one, this one, this one, this one, or this one for starters), and partly because somewhere inside I secretly wondered whether the geniuses behind the Gap brand are simply playing us as pawns in a New Coke-esque scheme of diabolical marketing genius (on that point, I still don’t think I know the answer).

While most articles have focused on the aesthetics of the logo itself or on issues surrounding crowdsourcing a logo effort (note to self: must… avoid… commenting… on… crowdsourcing… so… tempting), I’ve been wondering more about the strong reaction of the Gap community.

Specifically, why did the community of customers surrounding the Gap brand have such a visceral negative reaction to the logo change? Is it really that bad? The firm in charge of the redesign has a great reputation and deep understanding of the Gap brand. How did a project run by experienced brand professionals working with one of the largest consumer brands in the world go so wrong so quickly?

For me, the answer can be found in a quote I really love from outgoing Mozilla CEO John Lilly:

Surprise is the opposite of engagement.

[Read the rest of this post on opensource.com]

Five questions about open innovation, open source, and NASA with Molly Dix of RTI


A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet Molly Dix and Jeff Cope, who run the Open Innovation Advisory Services group at RTI. For those not familiar with RTI, it is one of the world’s preeminent research institutes, founded by a group of scientists in 1958 and now employing almost 3000 people helping businesses and governments in more than 40 countries around the world.

I thought it was pretty cool to learn that an organization of RTI’s size and position in the research world has a group dedicated to open innovation. I asked Molly if she’d be willing to let me ask her a few questions about the way she and RTI see open innovation.

My questions, and her answers, below.

CHRIS: Open innovation is one of those terms that everyone seems to see a bit differently. How would you define open innovation?

MOLLY: We see open innovation as a perspective whereby an organization is open to building on thinking, research, and intellectual property (IP) from outside their organization, as well as being open to partnerships with outside organizations related to their own research and IP.

Thus, open innovation is a 360-degree mindset that includes both technology pull and push as avenues to improve the speed and quality of research, development, and product launch.  Successful partnerships are at the core of successful open innovation.

[Read the rest of this interview on opensource.com]

OpenIDEO: a new experiment in open innovation


This week, those smart folks over at IDEO launched a new project they are calling OpenIDEO. If you aren’t familiar with IDEO yet, you should be—they are the poster children for design thinking specifically and 21st century innovation more generally.

IDEO has been responsible for groundbreaking designs of everything from computer mice to toothbrushes to brand experiences, and it is the home of superstar thinkers like Tim Brown (author of the recent book called Change By Design) and Tom Kelley (author of The Art of Innovation and The Ten Faces of Innovation).

What is OpenIDEO? Here’s what the website says:

OpenIDEO is a place where people design better, together for social good. It’s an online platform for creative thinkers: the veteran designer and the new guy who just signed on, the critic and the MBA, the active participant and the curious lurker.

So it is basically an experiment in open innovation, a place where IDEO can be the catalyst of a conversation among really smart folks from different disciplines that might lead to solutions for big, complex social problems.

If you are a skeptic, you might immediately wonder what’s in it for IDEO. One person asked whether IDEO planned to make money with the “crowd’s” ideas, and Tim Brown answered like this:

[Read the rest of this post on opensource.com]

BusinessWeek turns an eye to open source beyond technology


On opensource.com, we aspire to take principles the open source software movement has applied to building better software faster and find more uses for them in business, education, government, the law, and generally in our lives.

So a few weeks back, I was excited to see that BusinessWeek (now Bloomberg BusinessWeek) ran a special report called Eye on: Open Source that also embraced the wider usage of open source principles in technology and beyond.

My personal opinion? I think a few of the articles in the special report confuse true community-driven open source innovation with concepts like user-driven product design, crowdsourcing, and design competitions. But it was still neat to see BusinessWeek recognize the applicability of open source principles beyond software.

[Read the rest of this post on opensource.com]

Which is better: efficient markets or efficient communities?


In my post last week, I talked about what I see as inefficiencies in the system design of many crowdsourcing projects. Today, I thought I’d stick with the inefficiency theme after reading a blog by Umair Haque entitled The Efficient Community Hypothesis (thanks to Rebecca Fernandez for pointing it out).

In this post, Haque makes the case that the efficient market hypothesis often talked about by finance types should be replaced by something he calls the efficient community hypothesis.

From the post (all emphasis mine):

“…where efficient markets incorporate “all known information,” efficient communities incorporate “the best known information.” An efficient market is a tool for sorting the largest quantity of info. But an efficient community is a tool for sorting the highest quality info.”

[Read the rest of this post on opensource.com]

Why the open source way trumps the crowdsourcing way


A while back, I wrote an article about why the term crowdsourcing bugs me. Another thing that drives me nuts? When people confuse crowdsourcing and open source. My friend David Burney wrote an interesting post on this subject a while back highlighting the differences.

It finally hit me the other day just why the open source way seems so much more elegantly designed (and less wasteful) to me than what I’ll call “the crowdsourcing way.”

1. Typical projects run the open source way have many contributors and many beneficiaries.

2. Typical projects run the crowdsourcing way have many contributors and few beneficiaries.

crowdsourcing diagram

It’s such a simple concept, it seems obvious. Let’s look at a few examples to illustrate why this simple difference means so much.

[Read the rest of this post on opensource.com]

Can truly great design be done the open source way?


A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about Apple and open innovation. The discussion in the comments about Apple’s success, despite their non-openness, was pretty interesting. Greg DeKoenigsberg started things off with this salvo:

“No community could build something as gorgeous as the iPhone; it requires the singular vision of a beautiful fascist, and the resources of a gigantic company, and a world full of users who would happily trade simplicity and certainty for the ability to tinker.”

I think few people would argue that one of Apple’s greatest strengths is their amazingly consistent, and consistently beautiful, design work. And when I say design, I mean both “little d design” (their stuff looks awesome) and “big D Design” (their systems, processes, and experiences are expertly rendered).

From a design perspective, Apple has figured out how to make lightning strike in the same place over and over again.

Today, I want to ask a question that I’ve been thinking about for a long time:

Can truly great design be done the open source way?

Meaning, can a group of people designing collaboratively, out in the open, ever do the kind of consistently beautiful design work that Apple does? Or is Greg right, that “no community could build something as gorgeous as the iPhone”?

Both of my partners at New Kind, David Burney and Matt Muñoz, are designers by background. Both of them have significant open source experience (David spent almost 5 years as the VP of Communications at Red Hat, Matt worked on many Red Hat projects, including designing the Fedora logo), so the three of us have talked about this subject many times before.

[Read the rest of this post on opensource.com]

Is Jaron Lanier just a hater, or should we be paying attention?


Last week, my friend Greg DeKoenigsberg posted an article about Jaron Lanier’s negative comments regarding open textbooks. At almost very same time, I happened to stumble upon an article Jaron wrote back in 2006 criticizing Wikipedia.

The common theme is Jaron taking issue with what he calls “online collectivism,” “the hive mind,” and even “digital Maoism” (ouch!). You might call this same concept “crowdsourcing” or “the wisdom of crowds.” It’s all in the eye of the beholder, but the guy clearly does not have much love for wikis or the works of collective wisdom they create.

So I had to ask myself: Why so negative, Jaron?

Is Jaron really a hater of free culture, as Greg claims in his article? Is he an enemy of the open source way? Or is he just a smart dude warning us about the risks of taking the wisdom-of-crowds concept too far?

You Are Not A GadgetFortunately for us, Jaron published a book earlier this year entitled You Are Not A Gadget. So I took a few hours and read it last week to see if I could answer some of these questions.

At times, the book is scary smart, with precise analysis from a man who clearly questions everything, and is in a better intellectual position to do so than most (the section on social media and its redefinition of friendship is especially interesting).

At other times it read like a college philosophy term paper. And occassionally, especially toward then end, it devolved into nearly unintelligeble (at least by me) ravings about things like “postsymbolic communication” and “bachelardian neoteny” (Michael Agger’s review in Slate calls him out for this too).

But wait! Right near the beginning of the book, I found this paragraph:

“Emphasizing the crowd means deemphasizing individual humans in the design of society, and when you ask people not to be people, they revert to bad, moblike behaviors.”

Hey… I kinda agree with that…

[Read the rest of this post on opensource.com]

Love, hate, and the Wikipedia contributor culture problem


Last fall, a group of researchers at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) released a study showing an abrupt leveling off in the number of editors and edits to Wikipedia, starting in about 2007.

There is a great summation of the findings in a set of posts by Dr. Ed H Chi, Lead Scientist at the PARC Augmented Social Cognition group here, here, here, and here.

I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few months about what might be causing the slowing rate of contributions, as have many others. I particularly liked Niel Robertson’s post last week on the Enterprise Irregulars site.

Niel’s thesis is that Wikipedia has failed to continue to develop innovative ways to motivate its community, falling behind as other communities and companies have implemented more creative new techniques. Niel goes on to identify seven types of motivation for crowdsourcing (yes, I still dislike that word) efforts, of which he says Wikipedia is only using a couple.

I think he is on to something. But Wikipedia is operating at a scale that dwarfs almost every other crowdsourcing effort in history. It takes a massive bureaucracy of editors and administrators to keep the whole thing going.

And if traditional bureaucracies (like those in governments and large companies) tend to stifle innovation, what happens in a bureaucracy where the bureaucrats aren’t getting paid and aren’t getting any recognition for their efforts?

From my point of view, this is Wikipedia’s next great challenge:

How does it convince the world to love and recognize its contributors?

[Read the rest of this article on opensource.com]

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