One of the best panels I attended at SXSW Interactive was “Crowd Sourcing for Innovative Social Change,”( on the “nonproferati” panel: Holly Ross, Amy Sample Ward, David Neff, Kari Dunn Saratovsky, moderated by Beth Kanter). By now everyone recognizes crowd sourcing contests as a viable nonprofit resource for funding, publicity and plain ol’ good ideas. And as panelist Holly Ross said, “if you are an organization that wants to facilitate social change, you have to listen to the people and crowd source, it is your responsibility.”
This is a compelling argument, even though the possibility of undesirable outcomes looms large. For example, what if people band together to make sure the idea to air reruns of Arrested Development forever on IFC is selected and subsequently funded? (a girl can dream….)
In the case of “irreverent crowd sourcing,” the panel suggested the solution of a crowd/expert hybrid model with hefty qualifying criteria and policies. This model submits only relevant ideas and uses experts as the final decision makers. Protections such as these shield your organization from extremes. Nonetheless, staying true to the crowd must remain a top priority, as the legitimacy of your crowd sourcing model can be called into question. No one likes a set up.
I enjoyed this panel because they were well-prepared and thorough. Everything was crowd sourced: the topics, the slide show, the backchannel and then Beth Kanter went out into the crowd for comments. “I was modeling crowd sourcing and my new definition of an expert: Your expertise is in your network.” Beth Kanter wrote on her blog post about the panel, “I wanted to make sure that the backchannel was less of a place for snark, but more a place to capture ideas, insights, and resources. I kept encouraging people to add their urls or best resources into the stream, add insights, or make corrections.” Then after the panel, participants were encouraged to continue the conversation and add to the panel wiki: http://www.wearemedia.org/Crowdsourcing.
This panel was packed (standing room in the back), produced over 1500 #crowdx tweets, spurred many blogs posts and the slideshow below has been viewed over 500 times.
Crowd sourcing definitely draws a crowd.