Crowdsourcing Discussion at Wired in Second Life

November 4, 2006

Jeff Howe appeared at the virtual Wired office in Second Life to discuss crowdsourcing with Wired editor Chris Baker.

Without providing a transcript here, because it will be made available at the Wired Game Life blog, the items of the discussion which interested me were:

He feels that the definition of crowdsourcing has been discussed ad nauseum.

The purpose of the original Wired article wasn’t to put a word to the phenomenon. It was to identify the same underlying phenomenon in lots of varied places: photography, computer sciences, mountain bike design, shoe design, video entertainment.

“Second Life is just about the purest form of crowdsourcing.”

About Linden Labs: rather than get developers to create content they built the infrastructure and content creation tools. This plays to the nature of the Internet and people in general.

There is something inherently encouraging and beautiful about user generated content, it enables people to leverage their creativity in ways that previous generations could not. Crowdsourcing is not synonymous with user generated content, it’s a term applied to the model to exploit user creations and personally I don’t see anything wrong with that.

Morally, Linden do owe the community a great deal.

It’s incumbent on the crowdsourcee to figure out if they’re being exploited. If your user generated content is worth something, figure out how to sell it.

As the the class of content consumers gets larger so does the class of content creators.

Mechanical Turk never ever EVER have problems with tasks being fulfilled. This is the central mystery of crowdsourcing. One telling attribute is “at any given time, someone, somewhere is willing to do just about anything for some amount of money”. It’s just a matter of improving the network to facilitate the exchange.

A central assumption out there is that there’s money out there for people’s creative works.

Cambrian House has been smart in attracting crowdsourcees because they don’t make it seem like work.

And all that took about an hour to get through. And the first of it’s kind that I’ve attended in Second Life. It was a great way to take part in a ‘live’ event.

The topics discussed here will now no doubt be discussed ad nauseum here and in other blogs as we all continue the understand this emerging phenomenon.


Virtual Wired Crowdsourcing

November 2, 2006

Jeff Howe at is having a trip to the virtual office of Wired in Second Life for a discussion on crowdsourcing and it’s use in games and virtual worlds.

Details of the GameLife discusson indicate that the discussion will be at this virtual location at this virtual time.

Crowdsourcing in Second Life

August 14, 2006

Crowdsourcing in Second Life has had lots of attention because it is address two hot topics of the moment.

Obviously the success of Second Life is due to the enthusiastic support from the users, not to cheapen the huge resources poured into it by Linden Lab.

There is a tendency to compare open source development to crowdsourcing because of the community contributing so much work for very little or no reward.

To a degree, and assuming that the “residents” were common users of any other software platform, LL already deploys crowdsourcing — at the content level. There wouldn’t be a point of having 3300 sims available on a grid, if they didn’t have any content at all (although, granted, the quality of content varies wildly — but so varies the quality on the Web!). Instead, Linden Lab learned how to employ the users — very successfully — to develop the content by themselves. Without paying a cent. Or even better: charging users for displaying their own content!

There is lots of discussion of the impending and desired changes to Second Life requiring access to an API or protocol for interaction with the interface rather than the objects within. When crowdsourcing is discussed in relation to an API and the companies intellectual property, several important points are made.

Crowdsourcing seems to be a very good compromise when open sourcing is not possible (for several reasons). It keeps all propriety rights inside Linden Lab. Their own patents and copyrights are safe. Paranoid users will still prefer to use Linden Lab’s client instead of others. They would protect their investment and keep the important technological know-how inside the company. But they would, at the same time, open a new door for a whole host of developers to integrate with their grid in completely new ways — and very likely attend the needs of those residents who spend all their time bitching on forums or the feature voting tool for more features or bug-fixing. Crowdsourcing is about allowing all these people to concentrate on their own implementations instead of complaining about the company. In a sense, empowering the users, by turning them into developers (even under a closed and proprietary environment), is sound business logic. Google has learned that lesson; and so did Microsoft before them; and these days there is practically no type of “social” application on the Web that doesn’t have an open API as well.

They cannot be all wrong.

Crowdsourcing does not have to be an all or nothing strategy. Crowdsourcing can be used to solve problems that may be larger than the organisation trying to solve them. And when you’ve got several million avid users, perhaps you’d be crazy not to ask for help.