Posts Tagged ‘crowdsourcing’

Wikileaks Finally Resorting Crowdsourcing

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Whistle blowers and freedom fighters extraordinaire – Wikileaks – have just released 35000 classified documents originating from U.S. embassies from around the world.

But this time, instead of slowly sifting through the heaping pile themselves, they are doing something new – opening up the classified cables to the public, letting crowdsourcing handle the brunt of the painstaking work.

The entire cache of cables made freely available online in searchable format, making it easy to scour. And whenever any intrepid investigator finds a juicy tidbit they need only tweet about it with the hashtag #wlfind to share it with the world.

Finally, Assange and his gang are embracing a bit of that transparency they so vehemently espouse – something I’ve been lamenting about since January.

Well, better late than never. Plus, with plans to expose more nations – like Israel and Russia -  to the dreaded transparency treatment, it is high time Wikileaks distributed some of their burden to the rest of us.

Crowdsourcing the Gates-Buffett Pledged Money

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

The Giving Pledge, led by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, is a campaign that encourages the world’s mutli-millionaires and billionaires to commit the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.

Crowdsourcing leverages the power of large groups to perform tasks traditionally performed by a few individuals. Successful examples of crowdsourcing include the Netflix Prize, Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, and generating solutions to the Millennium Prize Problems.

Crowdvoting, when applied to a contest or competition, lets the public choose the winning candidates rather than having the outcomes being dictated by small, closed groups. Social media sites that allow liking, upvoting, and ratings are good examples of crowdvoting in action. As well, most of today’s televised talent shows rely on the audience to pick which contestants move on to the next round and ultimately win.

Now imagine if we combined the power of crowds with the wealth of the world’s financial elite. We’d end up with something similar to Kickstarter, only instead of funding creative endeavors, we’d have a process to find practical solutions for humanitarian causes.

Yes, this is what we our world needs: a social funding platform, backed by billions of donated dollars, that lets the public decide which projects are most worthy of receiving financial support. Boom! Just like that, doors and opportunities would open, generating huge strides towards a more just global civilization.

Not to worry, billionaires. Leaving such big decisions up to the unwashed masses has already been tried before. In 2008, for example, Google launched the 10^100 project, putting up $10 million to be distributed amongst publicly vetted, user-submitted proposals. Along these same lines, Pepsi has renewed their Refresh project into 2011, divvying up millions to fund great ideas every month.

An endeavor such as this could easily be spearheaded by one single wealthy individual willing to contribute a relatively small chunk of change, say $50 million. Then, as this trial run of democratic philanthropy proves to be a huge success, the process could be scaled up into the billions.

So there you have it… a breakthrough social innovation for the world’s wealthiest humans to embrace: letting everyone decide the best ways to help heal the world.

That’s Some Refreshing Corporate Branding

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

In ancient times, members of royalty could earn a favorable reputation by tossing a few loaves of bread to the amassed peasants. The Kings of today’s world – corporations – still do this, only they call it “social responsibility”.

Billion dollar corporations – the same ones who aggressively fight stricter environmental policies or enjoy gigantic tax breaks or move thousands of jobs to impoverished places where they can exploit quasi-slavery – will occasionally give back a mere pittance from their massive earnings, all in the name of charity and good-will.

Fauxlanthropy certainly isn’t novel, but in the past few years it has donned a new mask. Marketing Gurus eager to try innovative branding campaigns via social media have come up with a plan: rather than pick the benefactors themselves, they leave it up to us – the public – to select our own favorites via crowdsourcing. This leaves us feeling engaged and involved in the process, while improving the company’s public image.

For example, in 2010 Pepsi started their Refresh Communities project, which is “giving away millions to fund great ideas”.  You’d think most informed citizens would see this as a transparent gesture, even without knowing that the $20 Million they gave away came directly from the money they normally spend on Superbowl ads. But, seeing as the program will be continued through 2011, something must be working for them.

The people at PepsiCo are not alone in their attempts to harness the social revolution. Google had a 10^100 project to give away $10 Million to publicly selected candidates, and Chase Bank gave away $5 Million in a similar contest on Facebook.

How many more companies will hop on this bandwagon remains to be seen. If the “You Pick It” approach gets done too often the novelty risks running out, and corporate decision makers are unlikely to continue if the bang per marketing dollar no longer compares with more traditional advertising. Wouldn’t that be a shame?

Now, please don’t get me wrong here. Great things are likely to arise from these actions and the world is probably better for it. Plus, more power to all of the groups and individuals who won the contests.

What is bothersome is how few and far between these gestures are. And when they do happen, the company is sure to slap their brand all over it. On top of this, when these “generosities” are doled out, the recipients are ultimately approved by the corporation itself.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could force corporations to give back more, all the time?

Well, we can!

These business entities get away with as much as they do because we let them. Human beings are not powerless pawns in the world economy. We have unlimited means at our disposal, if only we use them.

For starters, our dollars speak volumes. Deal only with businesses that do the most to heal the world.

More importantly, we need to empower the world’s people in order to counterbalance the immense force held by these multinational conglomerates. This may seem insurmountable, but the shift has already begun to happen.

Millions of people from around the world who’ve grown discontent towards the corporatist system are waking up to see they are not alone. It is just a matter of time until these disgruntled masses organize into highly coordinated communities.

Then, when this force gets mobilized to action, corporations will face the reality that humans are not simply consumers, and profits will no longer be the only priority for our world.

Wikileaks’ Top Tidbits

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Here’s a few from the latest round of top Wikileaks stories:

One cable shows how the US conspired to force GMO’s into the EU. The US government bullying other nations to serve corporate interests? How original.

Another cable reveals that Saddam Hussein extended the message “Iraq wants friendship” to President Bush just before the Kuwait War. Consider it a no, Saddam.

A third highlight recounts the tale of Iranian President Ahmadinejad being slapped by the Chief of Staff. LOL!

Out of the 250,000 cables they have in their possession, the people at Wikileaks have released less than 2000. It sure would be nice if Wikileaks were to embrace more of the transparency they espouse and open up the cables to crowdsourcing. If they’ve got such a backlog of secrets, let us at them already!

Maybe they aren’t just milking the cables to stay relevant and they do know what they are doing. Perhaps slow-leaking the secrets is the responsible choice.  Assange does seem like a smart guy, after all.

On the other hand, considering how the leaks themselves are being leaked, we might just get lucky and see a new torrent garnering thousands of seeds very soon.