Week 10

Crowd sourcing is such a cool idea. I’d actually read the Wired Article before, it fascinates me. I’ve actually used the idea for a leadership paper on Machiavelli, a man whose (fake, but popular) philosophy was to lead the people like sheep while telling them they were Gods. If you can harness the work effort of people in their downtimes, convince them what they are doing is fun, or entertaining, they will happily double their productivity. From creating an encyclopedia, to mapping the human genome as a video game, people can be a wonderful tool to do your work for you. Heck, it’s the reason Facebook works, zuckerburg just created a framework, and people filled in content. The same for YouTube, which current receives more videos in a day that could be watched in a year.


Given that, for simple tasks, crowd sourcing leads to correct answers, it’s a powerful tool to harness. I remember when people could “loan” their computers to different agencies that would borrow the processing power while the computer was inactive for research. If you look at people like tools, this is the exact same thing, and cool. Or dangerous. As far as the article on reporters, using iReport, or blogging, puts huge pressure on actual news organizations to report even faster, and has led to less impressive journalistic coverage than we’d see even as close as 10 years ago.

My questions:

1. If a government could find a way to make, say, air traffic control, a crowd source-able job, done via a gaming console or computer, where people were rewarded for the most efficient airplane landing pathways, and perfect records, would you feel safe? ATC is especially tricky, remember, because those controllers sit in the booths for hours, get exhausted, stress issues, etc. If we crowd sourced, someone wouldn’t know if they were actually in charge, it would pull randomly from hundreds of available options, and someone would only be in charge for an hour, or two, like they were playing a video game.

2. Could you eventually trust a large group of people working in their spare time to deliver professional quality work to situations like the one I listed in question 1?

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4 Responses to Week 10

  1. I don’t know why I continue to show how old I am… When we were at UF in the early 90s, there was actually a contest for the most comprehensive production plans for Gator Growl, including transportation and traffic logistics, ticket sales, security, media relations, entertainment planning, transitioning from show to game the next day, and hundreds of other logistical questions. Groups of grad students from many disciplines formed groups in an effort to win the Gator Growl project. I believe there was a monetary prize, as well as the chance to put their plans into action with Florida Blue Key. It received quite a lot of attention for the unique way to quickly and efficient streamline a program that had rapidly grown into the gigantic affair that even surpassed what I experienced this past year. (The stadium used to be sold out, most skits were performed live, there were two comedians and one or two big-name bands.

    The winner’s plan was more comprehensive than I could detail here, but it addressed all the issues surrounding the event. In addition to students, it involved the buy-in of the University police, the city and county transportation authorities, city/county commissions, media companies, and many other organizations. So considering this, and the idea presented in the IBM university jam, and other instances of crowdsourcing, I do believe that I would trust an large-scale crowdsourced project. However, giving an individual control of the air traffic through a gaming console, if even for an hour would be too risky. Crowdsourcing using simulations, virtual reality, and limited testing to work out the initial plan would be best.

  2. alanyskpl says:

    I would feel a bit hesitant to have ATC be crowdsourced. If people were dong this job via a game console at their respective locations, they could take it less seriously. I would feel unsafe letting anyone without the background and experience operate our landing. I understand that people get tired and could potentially fall asleep on such a job, however, the more people involved, the messier the job could be. It would entail a great deal of clear communication.

  3. amandacbilly says:

    I was saying in class that I don’t think T-shaped education is for everyone or for all fields, and I’m going to say the same thing about crowdsourcing. It is not an appropriate solution for everything, including ATC. Some jobs–mechanical engineering, construction, accounting, and surgery come to mind as examples–require such specific skill sets that I would argue intensely specialized training is absolutely necessary for the people filling those roles. Given the responsibility entrusted to ATCs, I definitely would not want to see just anybody taking on that job.

    Most sites that open a task up to crowdsourcing do so for research and development tasks, administrative work, communications assignments, etc. They’re tasks the organization needs done, but they aren’t tasks that carry any real responsibility or urgency. There are exceptions, I suppose–volunteer firefighting, maybe? But those individuals are still trained, and they commit to performing that service. It’s not a one-time task like crowdsourcing generally is.

  4. Emily Davis says:

    I would definitely NOT feel okay about ATC being crowdsourced (admittedly, I’m a nervous nelly when it comes to flying, so all this may be a bit bias.) Similar to Linda’s comments, I would fear that it wouldn’t be taken seriously and that individuals would just view it more as a hobby than anything else. When I step onto a plane, I like to feel confident that the people running ATC are seriously committed and well trained. I suppose you get could some of that through crowdsourcing but I’m not sure it would provide the same environment.

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