The crowdsourced life

I happened to tweet this morning about two crowdsourcing moments — student tries to crowdsource his tuition; Michael Arrington crowdsources his rats/ship/flee list for Yahoo — when Mark Comerford tweeted back with a link to the crowdsourced job interview:

Joanna Geary, a young journalist trying for a job at the Birmingham Post, told her readers about the task she had to perform for the interview: “I have to outline a training course that would convert traditional print journalists into ‘fully-equipped and knowledgeable multi-media, multi-platform journalists’ in just five days.” So she decided to ask for her readers’ help. I said in the comments that that act alone should get her hired. It shows she thinks in the new way: open, networked, relying on and trusting the gift economy and respecting her readers and what they know.

This is reflex for me now. I come to my friends on the blog — you — to ask help all the time, especially with my book. I’m working on another project that has to stay secret right now — not mine; I’m helping someone else — and it’s killing me that I can’t tap the wisdom of all of you.

What this really means: Your friends are, indeed, your greatest asset and when you can tap them for help you exploit their value to you. The internet now enables you to do that anytime with anyone. If you don’t have friends, you can’t do that. Newspapers, magazines, companies of all sorts need to realize that is why they need friends.

We are in a relationship-based economy. (Which is another way to look at the link economy of media, Associated Press, and why turning friends into enemies is just bad business.)

  • Nasamat

    “If you don’t have friends, you can’t do that.”
    How very true! Yet, there are surprises sometimes. So one should bear in mind the French proverb that goes :”Ne crache jamais dans un puits, un jour tu auras soif et tu en boiras.” (Never spit in a well, one day you’ll get thirsty and you’ll (have to) drink from it.”

  • Barney Lerten

    Ah, a secret project! Can’t wait to hear it, Jeff. Of course, I’ve tried to tap a few “friends” (well, they feel like friends, after following them online) like you, Cory Bergman of Lost Remote, Al Tompkins of Poynter in trying to make a Forum on the Future of Journalism ( happen as well.

    Friends or not, I invite anyone here to drop by and help me see if this baby can fly. Sure, it’s an “old-fashioned” electronic forum, though it has its 2.0-ish elements (you can have pic slideshows, embed video – I think;-) – but mainly it’s intended to provide another place to discuss these very important issues.

    I hope;-)

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  • Liz

    I’m all for collaboration except when the contributions of others aren’t singled out and acknowledged (by name!). This is the problem I have when people talk about making a published versionthe of Wikipedia. The contributors who created and edited entries have a stake in their intellectual creations and it would be wrong to “cheat” them out of some of the proceeds of the sales of such a book. Or it should all go to charity.

    But that’s a larger topic. The real question I see is when does the contribution of the crowd become large enough to warrant a co-authoring credit? I think it is great when people freely give and share their knowledge and experience but their contributions should be honored and acknowledged. Or you could end up in civil court! (worst case scenario).

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  • Matt Law

    I don’t understand how you can write this post praising the concept of crowdsourcing just hours after criticizing someone for changing his mind in favor of a “crowdsourced” run for president.

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  • Brendan

    I didn’t realize I was on the cutting edge of marketing! HAhah.

    Thanks. It has helped. link back:


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  • Ewan McIntosh

    I had a superb crowdsourcing moment when I was first asked to write for the Economist. The last para reads:

    And, if you need a final point to consider, something practical to show the power of the social network for changing the way teachers learn themselves, just re-read this debate. It was written one Sunday afternoon, with collaboration over Twitter, the mobile phone and web-based social networking tool, with teaching colleagues from the US, Scotland, Canada, England, France, New Zealand and Australia. Has social networking changed the face of educational methods? Almost certainly: yes.

    Read what they came up with here:

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  • Joanna Geary

    Hi Jeff,

    I thought you might like to know that I got the job.

    This is my first week in post and I am really enjoying it – lots of challenges!

    Thank you for your post and your supportive comments on my blog. I have no doubt that they helped – if not by impressing my interviewers, then certainly by boosting my confidence before I faced them!



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