24 February 2009

Crowdsourcing

To get back to Crowdsourcing for a minute, I love the idea: "Wikipedia for everything else." And it's happening whether we want it to or not, in our new world where the locus of community is less about geography or biological relationship than it is about affinity.

Jeff Howe made a great point in his opening keynote at this year's Technology Conference: no matter how smart the people around you are, most of the smartest people work somewhere else.

Crowdsourcing, he went on to explain is a result of:

the perfect storm of the amateur renaissance, the open source revolution, democratization of production, and the rise of online community.

And most people have a desire to create something, whether it be beautiful photos, interesting designs, or an association magazine.

AND THAT’S ALL LOVELY, really it is, but I have to wonder: what about the people who lose not only their jobs, but their careers?

Sure, eventually you're the last guy making buggy whips and then the industry folds because no one needs buggy whips anymore.

And my hands aren't clean - I'm a sports blogger, and being a print sports journalist is already a low paying job. TV sportscasting is in no danger as long as they hold a monopoly on player, coach, game, and owner access.

But it worried me that Jeff Howe had no answer, which seems to me to be the crux of the matter: there are some highly technical skills that probably can't be crowdsourced. But if there's always someone willing to do what I do for free, then what?

I don't have any answers either, but I think it's a conversation that needs to be engaged.



1 comment:

Maggie McGary said...

REALLY good point, and something I wonder about frequently. I used to be a freelance writer. Now I still write, but I don't get paid for it. There are other non-cash incentives to writing for free, but you can't support yourself or your kids on links, blog page views or more Twitter followers.