Tag Archives: crowdsourcing

Weekly Post # 11: 2012 Presidential Elections- Another Campaigning Revolution?

We all witnessed how President Obama revolutionized the way that  presidential campaigns are held and will be held using technology and community efforts. This historical campaign has been a subject of discussion and analysis until today and has raised the bar in terms of the way the next elections will be held. Public engagement powered by the evolution of digital technology have brought Mr.Obama way ahead of other candidates and changed the election campaign landscape forever.

It not only fundamentally changed the logistics of a political campaign, but also formulated key principles that we will never forget. For me the most powerful one is that “crowds and communities have an immense power if given the tools to use it” – a concept  so extensively discussed during the course of my Social Media class and one of the most important ones that I will try to apply during my future career as a communication’s professional.  Never would he’ve been able to organize such large numbers of supporters without giving them the opportunity to organize and support themselves, energizing them and giving them the power and authority to contribute.

During the semester we read the book “The Long Tail ” by Clay Shirky. In it he mentions that the 3 key elements for a successful online campaign are: democratized production, democratized distribution, and connection between supply and demand.

Undoubtedly, Obama had them all. He used the democratized tools, his website, mobile phones, the existing social networking software. He used the democratized distribution, be it social networks, mobile, video or emails.  And finally he connected supply (used existing networks) and demand (people’s willingness to be involved).  Obama directed crowdsourcing –  he gave opportunities to large masses to contribute.

It is hard to predict what the next elections will look like. If we try to predict them, we need to predict technology and the developers’ genius minds are hard to guess.  The volunteer organization and empowerment will likely be times more sophisticated. I can imagine Obama’s opponents opening up and adopting this model of community energizing and engagement.

Two years from now is a long time. The Moore’s Law states that in two years the technology advances twice as much and becomes twice cheaper. So just to give you an example – in two years the IPad will be totally outdated and be replace by a two times more sophisticated and half cheaper device. What other platforms will be out there is hard to guess. But I think that no matter what they are, the core concept of community engagement and collective action will never get old and will be the driving force of the 2012 presidential elections as well, the way it is increasingly being adopted by the business world as well.

Another trend that we might possible see is Clay Shirky’s Long Tail. During the last elections Obama’s camping has overseen more than a hundred different websites.  I think that during the next elections he might go after even more niche audiences, no matter how small they are, and double the sites he oversees. I see his campaign reaching out to niche communities providing them with even more interactive tools to collaborate such as different apps and widgets.

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Weekly Blog # 8 Wikipedia: Can we trust it when it comes to..

It is not a secret  for  anyone that Twitter has surpassed mainstream media as the place for discovering breaking news. But I was surprised when I heard during one of my classes in Social Media that Wikipedia, just like Twitter, has also been used by many as a primary source of breaking news.

For example, I looked at the article about the 2005 London bombings. It was pretty impressive that it had taken minutes after the event for a volunteer to start a page on the events. Many others followed suit shortly afterwords. For the next 24 hours, more than 70 people have reported on the event and it had the most comprehensive user-generated coverage available out there, one that a traditional media outlet could not possibly prepare for the same amount of time.

There are only so many places a reporter can be and so many people he can talk to. This example makes me realize the real power of crowdsourcing and collaborative action. As I expresses in my last post, to me the process of creating a page on Wikipedia resembles a  group of people playing with a puzzle, and putting together pieces of information from various locations in one place. Same thing with breaking news on Wikipedia. It’s also impressive that when somebody puts a piece of the puzzle on the wrong place, it is immediately corrected by another group member.   Intentionally or not, mistakes are made in any given entry, but they are immediately caught and repaired by others. This is especially true when it comes to events unfolding in real time when there are so many eyes on that particular entry.

The entries on so many other breaking news events prove this point, the last one being the bombings on the Moscow Metro a few days ago. On the day of the attacks more the page has been edited more than 250 times.

The speed with which articles on breaking news are created and developed is absolutely astonishing. I was also surprised to hear that there is a group of people, devoted so much to creating Wikipedia content, that probably at the moment big news breaks, they stop whatever they’re doing to start a project and maintain its quality, by that I mostly mean cases of vandalism and filtering of all the opinion out.

Traditional media also gets things wrong sometimes, but somehow it is more accepted when they do that than a Wikipedia page. We are more inclined to trust traditional media and blogs, rather than a carefully tailored Wikipedia article. This post, gives more reasons why we should trust Wikipedia.

Google’s vice president Marissa Mayer in her testimony to Congress in May, 2009 on the future of  journalism, argues that:

Today, in online news, publishers frequently publish several articles on the same topic, sometimes with identical or closely related content, each at their own URL. The result is parallel Web pages that compete against each other in terms of authority, and in terms of placement in links and search results.

Consider instead how the authoritativeness of news articles might grow if an evolving story were published under a permanent, single URL as a living, changing, updating entity. We see this practice today in Wikipedia’s entries and in the topic pages at NYTimes.com. The result is a single authoritative page with a consistent reference point that gains clout and a following of users over time.”

Having all the above in consideration, my previous position that Wikipedia can be a trusted source of information, has only been reaffirmed. Of course, one always has to leave a place for some doubt whatever he the source is, but I can just say that I will also head to Wikipedia next time when important news breaks.