Crowdsourcing and Creativity

February 25, 2008 at 7:11 pm Leave a comment

Here is my response to Jeff Howe’s second posted section of his Crowdsourcing book, in which he explains the concept of “rise of amateur” vis a vis Crowdsourcing:

Hi Jeff,

Once again, wonderfully researched and written.

I wonder, however, about the way in which this section concludes: a fairly general (and possibility inaccurate) note, especially: “… It makes for interesting, and interested, individuals. But such individuals will seek out rewarding lives full of meaningful labor. Which is where crowdsourcing comes in.” This could be interpreted as implying that Crowdsourcing involves mainly those who have somehow been “left out of the fold”. While that is the case in some instances, is it not always true. (My guess is also that you are leading up to a section which will focus only on those who use their talents peripherally rather than as a vocation.)

It is important to reiterate here that a key motivation of Crowdsourcers is often to be recognized as an expert (with/without credentials) (e.g. Cookshack)…

Additionally, not all the “amateurs” who participate in Crowdsourcing are necessarily unfulfilled by their work. However, I am inclined to agree with David (commenting above) that we rarely craft things on our own any longer and that there is a tremendous satisfaction in creating… Funding, and more critically, respect, for the arts (and artists) is rapidly declining (on both a government and societal level). As such, creative individuals often find themselves having to choose between passion and livelihood. In these instances, it is unsurprising that people with a creative bent are yearning to flex their muscles and are using Crowdsourcing as an outlet. Without going on a rant here (as I am often apt to do), I think it is essential that our society addresses the long-term implications of making “creativity” an afterthought and appraising it so low.

I theorize that Crowdsourcing is becoming the “above-ground” “underground”: people with talents (artistic, scientific etc.) are yearning to create and gain acceptance for their abilities. While the underground movement in many of these fields has been, and continues to produce staggeringly impressive work, Crowdsourcing, in some cases, is giving individuals and communities the option of bringing their talents into the light. Is this “mainstage” ideal? That remains to be seen. The accessibility is uniquely Web 2.0 – the propensity for exploitation of the populace isn’t.

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