Crowdsourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks to an undefined group of people or community. Basically, a distributed problem-solving and production model. Jeff Howe claims that crowdsourcing is successful because it is an open call to anyone, so it therefore gathers those who are most fit to perform tasks, solve complex problems and contribute with the most fresh and relevant ideas.
Because technological advances have allowed for cheap consumer electronics, the gap between professionals and amateurs has been diminished. Companies are then able to take advantage of the talent of the public.
The crowdsourcing audience is typically an online community. The company poses a problem to the crowd. The crowd submits solutions, sorts through them, and picks the best ones. Those ideas are then proposed back to the company, the crowdsourcer, who has full ownership of them. The people with the winning ideas are sometimes compensated with money or recognition. Sometimes they are not.
There are many benefits of crowdsourcing. Because so many people are suggesting solutions, the problem is explored very quickly. And since payment is by results or not at all, it can be explored and solved very cheaply. You can also tap a much wider range of talent since you are opening it up to anyone rather than just a group within the company. Furthermore, you can get first-hand insight into the customer’s desire, because the customers may very well be the ones sumbitting ideas.
Crowdsourcing has many successes: Flash mobs.
I believe that the way students and faculty handled the “Fountain Day Fiasco” was completely childish, unfair, inefficient and, in the long run, completely unsuccessful. I mean, c’mon, a 41-year-old father chaining himself to a fountain, complete with plans of fasting and adult diapers? Because a bunch of college students can’t get wasted and break other people’s belongings? Unnecessary.
Don’t get me wrong I think the school reacted inappropriately as well. It is completely unfair that 20,000 students have their fun-in-the-sun taken away as a result of a handful of assholes. Fountain day usually takes place right before finals. This hell week, I’ve seen kids not sleeping or eating for days, sleeping in the library, cracked out on Adderall, coffee and cigarettes, just trying to hang in there to make it through to the end. Summer. The glorious pay-off that we cling to the idea of and hold on to for dear life just so we have something to look forward to during the most hellish week of the year. So you’re going to take that day away? That one 24 hours right in the middle of the madness. The one ounce of stress relief we have.
But throwing TVs off of balconies and smashing people’s windows is not chill. My French professor’s car was completely destroyed. She is a fun and laid back but also very devoted and inspiring teacher. She loves her students, and couldn’t believe that they could do this to her. Let me tell you right now, she didn’t deserve that, not one bit.
So my crowdsourcing idea would have been applied to Fountain Day. How could the UA students have pulled together in a more successful way then chaining themselves to inanimate objects and vandalizing school property? These things just reinforced the views the faculty had already created about us: we are childish, vengeful, and have no respect for others belongings.
A Facebook group was created. But all the comments were something along the lines of, “I can’t believe they did this, this is soooooo unfair!” In other words, bitching and complaining, rather than useful ideas of how to professionally go about this issue. I would’ve created a Facebook group for just that. I would’ve opened it up to all UAlbany students and faculty. I would also encourage insight from students and faculty from other universities. Every school has some sort of spring fling Fountain Day equivalent. How do they deal with these sorts of issues? Also, people passed out fliers but with no contact info. I would include contact info on fliers so people could send in their ideas.
Also, I would’ve used crowdsourcing after Kegs n Eggs. Instead of just cancelling Fountain Day straight away, I would’ve done the same thing as above but for how people thought the school authorities should deal with the events that happened that St. Patrick’s Day weekend. I’m sure there would’ve been some good and compromising ideas.
One of the first things I heard after the school sent out the email announcing the cancellation of Fountain Day was, “Oh well, we’ll just have parties downtown on that day and get super reckless. We’ll show them. They’ll have another Kegs n Eggs situation on their hands.” That made me want to vomit. Really guys? That’s exactly the opposite of what we need to do. We need to show the school that we can have fun and have a few drinks while still acting responsible and civil. Instead of getting more fucked up and breaking things, we should have a nice, calm, clean sudo-Fountain Day celebration in which people have fun with each other peacefully instead of causing riots. I’m not talking Haight-Ashbury here, just a nice family-BBQ-style-with-a-few-beers type thing. Is that really so hard?