As anyone who has been reading this blog probably knows I am fascinated with how the Internet and social media can be used in new ways to engage the community. The development of "wikis" has shown how open source programs can use the collective knowledge of many people to create innovative products. The old phrase “two brains are better than one” gets a whole new meaning when you bring together the collective brains of hundreds or thousands of people with a variety of backgrounds and knowledge. The most famous creation of a wiki is Wikopedia.
According to Source Watch “After experimenting with Nupedia, which relied on approved editors for quality control, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales concluded that a top-down "cathedral" development model would not allow the project to be successful. Wales sought a method whereby a larger group of users could asynchronously or simultaneously review content. Wiki software, which allows casual users easier access to editing tools, offered Wales an alternative to the problems he saw in the Nupedia model. Wikipedia soon developed a large group of regular users who controled content by reviewing recent changes and individual watch-lists of pages that they wanted to watch for changes. In a contrast to the Nupedia model, in which edit privileges were difficult to come by, Wikipedia offered edit privileges by default. Administrators revoke edit privileges at their discretion based on policies, and on their opinion of content or contributors. Wikipedia, more so than other wiki services in early 2004, had become a main source for encyclopedic content redistributed by other sites. While this means that a much greater body of Internet content is freely available, it also means that any errors in Wikipedia are reproduced across the Internet.”
The world of community services can use the wiki model to harness the collective knowledge and engagement to create needed community services. This model called “crowdsourcing” is a new innovative technique to be used by non-profits and other service providers to engage the community. Crowdsourcing does represent a new “bottom/up” model that challenges the more traditional board of directors driven "top/down model of operation. Many Boards are uncomfortable to give up some of their control of organizational operations and determining the direction of “their” organizations. Strategic plans are often developed with little input except from the board directors. Many organizations are uncomfortable accepting how closed their organizations are in obtaining input from the wider general community. Sometimes public hearings are held to satisfy a funder more than set a new direction for the organization.
There are many examples of crowdsourcing to collectively develop a project. Gretchen McKay, an Art History professor at McDaniels College, had some of her students help design some of her courses. This goes against the top/down model of professors with doctorates assuming that their role is to transmit information to students in a non-collaborative manner. Somehow educators have forgotten the old Chinese maxim of “Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.”
Would you believe you could create a symphony orchestra by crowdsourcing? The YouTube Symphony Orchestra has performed at
No Labels hopes to organize groups in every Congressional district throughout the US. Sounds like a group of independent moderates who are tired of the voices of the two extremes. The Howard County group has had two meetings and will meet April 26th from 7pm to 9pm at Howard County Central Library,10375 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, MD 21144. There is a website for No Labels at http://nolabels.org/home/ which promotes the organization. Also please note that people who are interested in the local Howard County meeting can sign up at http://forward.nolabels.org/page/event/detail/jry
The Columbia Association is sponsoring a "Dog Day Afternoon" this Saturday to bring your pets to. Check it out