3 emerging trends of crowdsourcing and media innovation

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The crowd at Digile Business Forum 2014: Crowds Renewing Value Creation. Credit: Khari Johnson.

About 150 people packed a room in Helsinki Music Centre Thursday to hear giants of tech, computer science and media talk about crowdsourcing and the value of the crowd.

Marc Dillon, co-founder of independent phone and mobile OS creator Jolla stressed the importance of testing and the help of crowds to update its operating system.

Peter Vesterbacka (aka The Mighty Eagle) of Angry Birds creator Rovio said (via video) working with crowds is no longer an option and that the love of fans and designers makes the best product.

“It’s all about love,” he said.

Patrik Sallner, CEO of SkySQL, reminded people that open source software likely paved the way for the crowd and that Finnish open source innovations like Linux and MySQL helped build the internet.

But the top highlights for media and journalism geeks may have been Scoopshot and words from (also via video) Tanja Aitamurto, who started her talk with mention of Burning Man and how crowdsourcing can potentially move people toward utopia.

Aitamurto is Deputy Director of the Brown Institute for Media Innovation at Stanford University. Her research centers on the optimal conditions of crowdsources and its impact.

Her three examples of trends in crowdsourcing:

1. Crowdsourcing for democracy

In the past Icelandic and Finnish governments have used crowdsourcing for constitutional and law reforms. More recently she points to:

  • California Report Card was developed at UC Berkeley with Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom (author of Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital) to crowdsource a political agenda.
  • CrowdPAC where you can put in your information to identify political action committees that match your interests.
  • Amplify’d to crowdsource activism, protest and lobbying
  • Citizinvestor to crowdfund public projects and volunteer work in your community

2. Crowdfunding creativity

  • Beacon to crowdfund journalists and subscriptions that give the journalist steady income and the reader regular access to their work.
  • Patreon is a very similar company to crowdfund the work of comedians, musicians, craft makers and other artists.

3. Crowdsource sharing for money

Lyft, Uber, Sidecar are well known examples of transportation crowdsourcing. She also offered Uber Pool, Uber’s new carpool source and Monkeyparking is an auction app that allows people to bid for parking spaces in congested cities.

Civic engagement, direct citizen action and the ability to see things you like spring to life is all very exciting, said Aitamurto, who supports a comedian on the platform.

“What’s interesting to me here is that Patreon actually brings alive the famous notion by Kevin Kelly of 1,000 true fans. That notions brings forward the idea that if you have 1K fans you will be able to survive,” she said.

Patreon seems to prove that if an artist can find that many fans they can do more than survive but thrive.

Many evangelists of sharing economy still consider crowdsourcing the way to utopia but it’s too soon to call it a savior or disappointment, too soon to judge, Aitamurto said. 

For example, residents of an Oakland, Calif. neighborhood used Citizinvestor to crowdfund a private security force to patrol their public streets, and Moneyparking essentially allows the temporary sale of public property.

“I’m basically buying and selling property that’s not mine and not the person who is buying it,” she said.

Visit Aitamurto’s website to see her published studies on the impact of crowdfunding on journalism, data journalism and other topics.

The conference was hosted by Finnish information and technology champion Digile.

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Khari Johnson
Khari is founder and editor of Through the Cracks: Crowdfunding in Journalism. He also writes about bots and artificial intelligence for VentureBeat. He has built news startups in the U.S. and Europe for the last decade.

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