Monday, March 19, 2007

Crowdsourcing the News

Colin and I have been increasingly interested in the growing phenomenon of "crowdsourcing"--or the replacement of a defined specialist entity by outsourcing to a nebulous group of people "out there" who may be credentialled specialists or expert tinkerers and boffins etc.

According to the New York Times (free registration required to read articles), Assignment Zero is a collaborative--in the full sense of the word--initiative spearheaded by "Wired magazine and NewAssignment.Net, the experimental journalism site established by Jay Rosen, a professor of journalism at New York University" (NYT 03/19/07). Basically, readers will take on assignments posted on the website or offer suggestions for topics to be addressed. For example, at the time of writing this, one assignment posted on the website reads:

"We need someone to interview and write a profile of a Wikipedia super-contributor. If you are interested in this assignment, please tell us why you're a good candidate. You'll hear back from us as soon as we're ready to get you writing. The story may change depending on what the crowd shares."

Crowdsourcing is a fascinating development and worth some close attention, not least because the implications for schooling and credentialling institutions are enormous!

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