Thursday, November 16, 2006

WE > ME ..or.. Don't be left out?

"We are smarter than me" is an community-based collaborative book writing project led by authors from Wharton's SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management, MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, Pearson Education and Shared Insights. From the site:
The central premise of We Are Smarter Than Me is that large groups of people ("We") can, and should, take responsibility for traditional business functions that are currently performed by companies, industries and experts ("Me").
Of course, if you read the fine print, it appears that the *true* premise of the project is ultimately crowdsourcing.
I didn't see "crowdsourcing" used anywhere on the site, but I'd say the project fits well with Jeff Howe's treatise on the phenomena.

As a contributor, you forfeit rights to the publisher (i.e. the profit center) which is based on the Creative Commons licensing model. Authors retain attribution rights, and a Wall Street Journal article has a fascinating quote from MIT management professor Thomas Malone on motivating professionals to contribute.
"The question is, can we create an incentive structure so they'll put in some of their best thinking, or will this just be incidental thinking?" He says it's possible that individuals may get credits for having primary responsibility for a particular chapter. On the other hand, he says, "If you really are an expert in this area, you wouldn't want to be left out."
I can't say that as a professional I would not be motivated to contribute my critical thinking based on my fear of not being left out. My guess is that the best contribution Mr. Malone et. al. will get is a few lines of thinking, followed by .."if you'd like to see my research, buy my book". After all, academics do not live on a tenure salary alone.

I didn't have this example when the Kuurian Expedition met with Jeff and Gwyneth Llewelyn earlier this week. I'd really like to know what Jeff thinks about the incentive side of crowdsourcing - is it as simple as people just don't want to be left out?
Share Some Grace:

blog comments powered by Disqus