Malleable Musings

April 29, 2009

Galton – The father of crowdsourcing

Filed under: Conferences — Brendan @ 6:16 pm

I was at Internet World this morning. (Q.1 Why does an internet show not have free wifi? I was reliant on an O2 Edge / GPRS connection, which was a shame as I otherwise I probably would have tweeted more things I found useful.  Q.2 Wonder why Internet World considers me a VIP?)

I’m not sure it’s really as valuable a show as I used to find it. Either I’ve got more knowledgable (I wish) or it’s dumbed down, and simply isn’t as leading edge as it once was.

However I ended up in a couple of interesting sessions and learnt a bit. The first session was on UGC, in particular for wiki style sites. What interested me was the analysis that they did on the range of areas that users feel able to comment on and how quickly they were able to switch their focus. They showed one individual who comments a lot making comments every few minutes on a very diverse set of subject areas.

What was also interesting for me about this session was the historical perspective of crowdsourcing, with Galton being credited as being one of the first (see paragraph on being at a livestock fair and using the mean of the crowds guesses at a livestock fair to estimate a bull’s weight).

There were also a couple of good warnings about the madness of crowds – the expert view and tulipmania were good examples.

The buzz monitoring session was interesting and very well chaired. I was very surprised by the number in the room who trust free tools to manage their media monitoring. For some reason I expected more to using professional services (although again this could have been a reflection of who was in the room).

There were a couple of good quotes that stick out for me “Social media is just people talking amplified” and something along the lines of “You can use people or tools/machines. At the moment people are better, but the machines are learning.”

I meant to ask a question about taking culture in to account when responding but as usual I’d forgotten what I wanted to ask when the opportunity arose.

In general I think that the most that the event provided was confirmation that I’ve been pushing things in the right general direction, which while nice, isn’t necessarily worth several hours out of the office.

It was however good to meet a few people and I managed to use a real live QR code (from the back of my VIP badge) on the train home which got me very excited.

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