Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Using Crowdsourcing to Predict Terrorist Threats

New ways are constantly sought to better predict and tackle terrorist threats, and thanks to the advent of social technology, crowdsourcing could potentially play an important role. Research is being carried out by a team of academics, Applied Research Associates (ARA) based in Raleigh North Carolina to determine how crowdsourcing can be used to collect data hence make accurate predictions and spot trends.

Working in partnership with seven universities around the US, the ARA are testing and developing technology systems that can efficiently collect and process different opinions on topics such as politics, the economy and disease control. This information is then passed onto the intelligence agencies to help them make predictions.

The ARA have considerable experience in the field of threat assessment having already developed the Federal Security Risk (FSR) manager. This sophisticated software carries out detailed threat assessments examining likely attack scenarios and analysing possible vulnerabilities. FSR is regularly used to carry out assessments for military facilities, government offices, court houses and industrial estates.

For its latest venture the ARA are using Forecasting Ace, a platform still in beta stage. The general public are invited to register and then render their opinion on any subject matter giving details as to their reasoning. It also allows people to include additional information such as their background and expertise be it politics, technical, academic, or industrial fields. 
Various crowdsourcing have been used in the past. In general they take an average of everyone's opinion and come up with predictions. But there is very little research on whether these methods work. We think we can do better by weighting people's opinion based on their rational for making their predictions. - Dick Warnaar, Principle Project Investigator ARA 
Whilst the concentration is on predicting possible terrorist threats, the ARA team hope to use it to predict other outcomes such as fuel and energy prices, and performances on the stock market.

Image Credit; Josh Satiger

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Crowsource Latest Update Fuels Worker Competition

One of the leaders in the provisions of crowdsourcing services, Crowdsource LLC has announced the launch of a new update to its Scaleable Workforce platform. Currently a beta release, worker profiles acts as a motivational mechanism to encourage friendly competition amongst its workforce as well as provide an effective tool for performance measurement.

Consisting of a team of twenty workers based in Swansea, Illinois, Crowdsource LLC provides exclusively to Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk), a Scaleable Workforce platform designed for better project and workforce management. MTurk from Amazon has become a leading marketplace providing a diverse on-demand workforce. MTurk also provides workers with a range of tasks to perform that suits their skills and expertise, and performed around their own personal timetable. Crowdsource has, through their platform, recruits thousands of workers to compete up to 100,000 tasks per month which include product categorization, editorial tasks, and transcription.

There has been some controversy concerning MTurk, especially with regards to pay, however Crowdsource boast workforce satisfaction as a key focus of its operations. Crowdsource workers are reported to earn above minimum wage, with some even earning up to $15 per hour,  and feedback from the workers is encouraged. The worker profiles addition will allow workers to measure their performance against the fellow members. This encourages them to set their own personal benchmarks, and facilitates friendly competition amongst the worker members.
Worker satisfaction is a major focus for our team. We believe that in order to keep our workers happy, we need to provide an online environment filled with all of the same motivational mechanisms found within the traditional workplace. Friendly competition and desire to reach the front of the pack are important to overall worker fulfilment. - Stephanie Leffler, CEO Crowdsource
Worker profiles also allows worker members to review their past work, collate and analyse moderator comments, and find work that is more in line with their interests. In their continued efforts to make the online workplace more competitive, the worker members have something to strive for. There also talks of a complete career system to be implemented rewarding workers for hitting benchmarks targets, all of this making the workforce marketplace even more attractive.

Image Credit; Total Aldo

Can Social Media Improve Dialogue Between Religions?

The use of social media to improve interfaith communications and relations will be the theme of this year's Doha Interfaith Conference. The 9th annual two-day conference, set up by the Doha International Centre for Interfaith Dialogue (DICID), will be held on 24th October 2011 and is expected to draw over 170 participants from the Middle East, Europe, and the US to examine the theme of  'Means of Social Communication and the Interfaith Dialogue; a Futuristic Outlook'.

This year's conference will revolve around issues like interfaith dialogue, civilisations and cultures with a focus on the role of social communication media in influencing people's opinion. Ebrahim Saleh Al Nuaimi, the director of the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue (DICID)
Religious scholars and experts at the conference will examine the impact social communications and networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in the Arab world. They will examine whether or not free and open channels can encourage better understanding between the faiths and perhaps even lead to constructive dialogue as a way of resolving disputes. 

The DICID is committed to promoting the acceptance of different religious and philosophical views which can be facilitated through social media. Free and open communications offers the opportunity and the means for people of different cultures to communicate and share ideas. Yet the DICID want to put equal focus on how to implement those tools effectively, in the hope that effective communication will lead to better understanding and perhaps even resolutions to disputes without leading to war.

Source; Gulf News
Image Credit; Seeds of Peace

Monday, 29 August 2011

Open Innovation Seeks a Better Way to Live with Dementia

The Design Council, a UK non-profit organisation, in partnership with the Department of Health have launched a campaign to re-examine the way people live with dementia. The competition was opened on 15th August 2011, challenging entrants to help those who suffer with dementia and their carers live better lives, with the winning design securing a cash prize and an opportunity to see the idea come to life.

One in three people who live to 65 years will suffer from some sort of dementia. The impact this has on the lives of sufferers and their families who have to care for them can be world shattering. Yet there is light at the end of the tunnel thanks to the Design Council's open innovation challenge.  Entrants are called to form a team made up of individuals with design expertise and skills, and submit their proposal by way of a PDF document. Since this is an open innovation challenge entrants are being sought from as a wide a range of participants as possible however the leading project partner must be from a UK registered business. All proposals must be submitted before 5pm GMT on 30th September 2011.
This is an exciting opportunity for designers, businesses, communities to work on a project that will make such a difference to people’s lives. We can see the stats around the issue but the reality of it is that dementia is something that will and does affect every family in Britain. Previous challenges have shown the impact design plays in addressing difficult social and health issues and I think teams will once again drive the innovation curve. - David Kester, CEO of the Design Council
Once registered, entrants will be offered support through the council's blog. Such help would include information on living with dementia as well as finding project partners. Regular updates are provided through the council's design challenge Twitter feed under its #dementia hashtag, and the council has scheduled a series of drop in days with the latest ones being held on 6th September and 8th Septembers 2011. 

Living well with Dementia from Design Council on Vimeo.

Submissions will be sifted and teams will be selected for funding to prepare a pitch, with help from an advisory board made up of designers, healthcare experts, carer organisations and social innovators. A series of interviews with full pitches of the designs will be carried out after which winners will be selected. A total cash prize of £360,000 will be shared amongst the winning pitches together with professional support to create a prototype of the designs aimed to be showcased around March 2012. 

If you are interested in taking part then visit the Design Council's design challenge page and download the full brief. 

Image Credit;

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Gazette Profile; Crowdfunder

Crowdsourcing Gazette is committed to providing focus on how the UK has embraced the benefits of crowdsourcing for a variety of purposes. One way has involved seeking out UK based initiatives and reporting on their activities. The other, as part of what will be a regular instalment, the Gazette will profile those UK based individuals and organisations that provide crowdsourcing services, including crowdfunding, as well as fielding open innovation schemes.


Exeter based Crowdfunder was launched in November 2010 by serial entrepreneur Darren Westlake and digital marketing & strategy expert Luke Lang. With a strong background in Telecoms, Technology and Internet Darren has established, steered to success, and sold two businesses. Luke developed his marketing knowledge as a Digital Marketing Manager for a national Internet service provider and then moved on to become a self employed marketing consultant specialising in marketing strategy in digital and B2B marketing. Together they established their first crowdfunding platform.

Crowdcube was established as an online version of Dragon's Den providing a platform for budding entrepreneurs to secure funding from potential investors (or armchair dragons) in exchange for equity stakes. With the success of Crowdcube, and witnessing the increasing success of other platforms such as Kickstarter, Darren and Luke decided to set up a similar platform for the UK with a wider focus.

Since launching, Crowdfunder has received over 1,000 pitches for projects in need of funding. Whereas some platforms have tendencies to project be specific, Crowdfunder accepts pitches on a variety of project types from all over the world. Some of the projects currently seeking funding include an optical accessory enabling smartphones to capture 360° panoramic images, funds to produce a new album, and even a "fund my life" pitch to help an individual continue their Ph.D studies. 

The application process is simple and whilst Crowdfunder, aims to make a decision on allowing a project to go live within 24 hours or less this is dependent on the level of input received from the project owners. Those looking to submit a proposal are encouraged to ask questions and provide as much information as possible to support their pitch including blog posts, twitter feeds, and website details. It is also recommended that the pitch owner funds a percentage of their own project. Crowdfunder works with the project owners offering guidance and suggestions  on aspects such as the viability of rewards offered, and is always approachable should the project owners have questions.

Once a project goes live Crowdfunder continues to offer support and guidance, but also actively promotes its projects. This is done through the site's newsletter highlighting the latest pitches. Twitter and Facebook are updated regularly, and the site's featured pitches segment makes it easy for potential funders to browse through selections of projects in search of a worthy investment. 

Crowdfunder has essentially taken an established model and made it internationally accessible by removing the shackles on the types of projects it considers thus attracting more prospects. The help and support it offers project owners, making it more of a collaborative process has helped over 150 of the 1000 pitches considered to go live. Since launching, Crowdfunder has raised over £50,000 for various projects plus a further £10,000 on those projects which have not reached their end date. With many more potential projects on the horizon Crowdfunder looks set help put the UK on the crowdfunding map.

Acknowledgements; Thanks to Rose Elliot of Crowdfunder for her input.
Image Credit; Crowdfunder,

Want to be featured on Crowdsourcing Gazette UK? Please visit the "Contact" page for more information.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

MusicRevolution Offers Crowdsourced Music for Business Needs

Finding the right music to suit your business needs, whether it be hold music for your telephone system or something for your website, can be difficult, especially where copyright is involved. MusicRevolution is a crowdsourcing platform that offers potential customers quality produced royalty free music for just about every business need, which also benefits its crowd of musicians with regular work and recognition.

The company was founded by Chris Cardell and Mike Bielenberg in April 2010 to provide a unique music marketplace beneficial to both the buyers and its registered community musicians. Both founders bring a wealth of experience to this ambitious enterprise. Cardell served as president of Juptermedia (JUPM) developing and acquiring numerous royalty-free music libraries. Bielenberg was General Manager for the music production side of JUPM's parent company Jupiterimages and also founded BBM, a royalty-free music licensing site later acquired by JUPM.  

MusicRevolution customers can purchase music as individual tracks, part of a compilation CD, or even subscribe to an annual subscription allowing them to download or stream up to 50 tracks. On average a single track costs $49.99 (£31) and comes with a standard licensing agreement, allowing the buyer to use the tracks many times and for any project active at time of purchase. CD compilations can be purchased for $119 ($73) however if a buyer purchases a subscription they can download any 50 tracks at $8 (£5) per track totalling £399.99 (£250). MusicRevolution also offers non-profit organisations use of it's catalogue of tracks free of charge.

Whilst the buyer is licensed to use the material as they see fit, subject to restrictions, the composers still retain full ownership to the copyright. This allows the musicians to continue distributing their music either for promotion or further earnings through other channels.  In exchange for their work, composers receive 50% for every individual track, CD and subscription sold. Royalties for CD and subscriptions sales are pro-rated, based on the volume of the composer's tracks compared to the total downloaded. In addition composers also receive 25% of sales of the music stream, again pro-rated according to the number of each composers' tracks used. 

In licensing music in this manner MusicRevolution can provide an extensive library of crowdsourced music (currently at over 10,000) at affordable prices for the buyer. The licensing arrangements, which have some restrictions, allow for the music to be used more freely without worrying about breaching copyright. Music Revolution also provides the musicians the potential to earn money from their music whilst at the same time retaining ownership. For further details visit the MusicRevolution help page.

Image Credit; Photosteve 101

Thursday, 18 August 2011

First Printed Magazine All About Social Media

In an age when more publications are available online, some would assume that a need for printed publications would diminish. Social Media Monthly is the first, and to date, only printed magazine to publish articles on all things to do with social media. With only it's first edition it has generated both positive reviews as well as some critical scorn.

The magazine was launched by the technology group Cool Blue Company LLC, based in Washington DC, and focuses on all aspects of social media from the uses of different networks to viral marketing. The magazine is the brainchild of the group's founder Robert Fine, who formed Cool Blue Company whilst studying for his PhD at George Mason University. Fine has over 17 years experience in systems and sales engineering working for various prominent groups such as the Hughes Network Systems LLC, an international provider of satellite broadband internet. 

Social Media Monthly was launched in May 2011 at New York city's BlogWorld and New Media Expo.  Attendees at the event were given early editions of the magazine to read and offer feedback, which has largely proven to be very positive. Praise has been offered for the magazine's provision of  the latest news and in-depth insights on the word of social media with contributions from various leading proponents in the world of social media including Simon Mainwaring, Shelley Kramer, and Beverly Macy

Whilst some technology writers such as Heather Matheson of Technorati praise the magazine's ability to cast a discerning eye on all aspects of social media and giving it some much needed positive recognition, one or two sceptics have failed to see the relevance of a paper publication on a digital phenomena believing it to be best suited as an online platform. 
I am basically speechless that a venture capitalist funded this idea – I’d sooner fund a magazine devoted to dancing about architecture. But if you want to read about social media on the train instead of just doing social media on the train, go to Barnes & Noble and get a copy. -  Hank Campbell, Science 2.0 
It seems that despite such scathing rhetoric the magazine is already creating a growing demand, with founder Robert Fine reporting a 20% increase in retail orders since the first issue, and the second issue scheduled for release in October. For those wishing to judge for themselves, the magazine is available to buy in the US from Barnes and Noble, and newsagents internationally in countries including Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Canada (recently included for international distribution), and of course, the UK. It is also available to download as an app for both the iphone and ipad.

Source; Social Times
Image Credit; Social Media Monthly

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Crowdsourcing Your Own Fantasy Shops

The Nation of Shopkeepers interactive illustration was launched on 2nd August 2011 from the Peckham Space art venue. The exhibition allows visitors to the venue to create their own fantasy shop over a carefully sketched outline of Peckham's Rye Lane shops. However following the riots  which hit many parts of the UK, the organisers have extended the invitation to people at home to create their own row of Pechkam shops.

Garudio Studiage is a Peckham based collective of creative individuals who specialise in a variety of artistic skills. The group also participates in an array of art exhibitions and events as well as building props, displays, and an assortment of products which include the Wildlife of London Tote Bag and the Flat Pets range. The studio's most recent project, Hidden Cameras examined the multiple meanings of the sign "Hidden Cameras in Operation" and featured their most bizarre product, the Paparazzi Mirror.

The Nation of Shopkeepers exhibit was initially an interactive exhibition only, forming part of Peckham Space's free summer Art Clubs for young people. It's purpose is to celebrate the architecture of Peckham's Rye Lane shops, and generally have fun with a blank canvas. The exhibition features large scale line drawings of the Rye Lane shopping area. The shop fronts and signs are left blank for visitors to the exhibition to fill in the spaces with their own fantasy shops. The recent London riots, however, which spread to Peckham saw some of businesses on Rye Lane fall victim to arsonists and looting. The team at Garudio Studiage have urged for a more positive response for the community.

Garudio Studiage have released a Nation of Shopkeepers colouring book which can be purchased from their online shop. The book, which only costs £5.00, consists of 10 drawings from the exhibition. All proceeds from the sales of the colouring book will be donated to Peckham Space who are currently raising funds for their winter Art Clubs. The riots have done much damage to property and morale in Peckham, and Garudio Studiage hope that by supporting Nation of Shopkeepers and Peckham Space, the wounds of the community will begin to mend. 

Image Credit; Garudio Studiage

Monday, 15 August 2011

Siemens Invite You to Change Your City for the Better

German technology giants Siemens, in partnership with Zooppa, have launched a crowdsourcing film competition centred around the question of how technology can have a positive impact on the future. The campaign, named Changing Your City for the Better is calling for film makers to produce a short piece on the positive impact technology has today and could have in the future to improve urban life, and will award a generous cash prize for the winning entry.

With over 116,000 members forming a global social network of talented creatives, Zooppa specialises in managing successful crowdsourced campaigns for many blue chip companies such as AT&T, Nike and Best Western hotel group. Once a participant registers to become a member they are eligible to take part in any of the competitions available. 

Zooppa is calling for film makers to register as a member and produce a video with a running time of at least two minutes but no more than five, depicting the every day challenges of urban life in any one of three areas specified in the brief. The film can be a personal examination of how technology can have a positive impact in their city or any city around the world for the better. Alternatively the film maker can focus on the positive impacts technology currently has on urban life. The film must feature or be based on real people and authentic stories. 

Participants from all the over the world are invited to enter and can make the film in any language as long an English transcript translation is provided. All entries will be judged by Siemens representatives who will consider if it is a compelling story, judge the production values (must be in HD), whether it captures spirit of the brief, and of course accuracy & authenticity. A total of $40,000 (£25,000) in cash prizes will be awarded with the winner receiving $15,000 (£9,200). Second and third place runners up will be awarded $7,500 (£4,600) and $4,500 (£2,700) respectively.

For more information about the competition visit the Zooppa website, register as a member and download the brief. It is imperative to read the terms and conditions found in the submission agreement as well make note of the technical requirements. 

Image Credit; LHOON

Friday, 12 August 2011

Can Microfundo Save the Economy Through Crowdfunding Music?

The global financial crisis shows no signs of improving and many services that rely on government finding are finding themselves on the receiving end of imposed austerity measures. In particular arts and culture programs are losing funds thus leading to unemployment. In such dire times when people are spending less the question is how can the economy recover? Microfundo, a crowdfunding platform for artists and arts organisations offers a solution.At a time when the US and European economies are failing, other parts of the world are more prosperous, like Brazil for example. 

Brazil has seen prosperity in technology, blue chip investments but in particular local arts and music. Microfundo has taken inspiration from how Brazilian musicians promote their work, a highly organised system in which street vendors sell recordings of artists work and promote their upcoming performances. The vendors keep any money made from sales and the artists keep any net profit from the shows, which usually sell out filling venues with a crowd capacity of 4000 to 5000 music lovers. 

Microfundo recently formed a partnership with musicians Kim Taylor and Todd Thibaud to benefit the US city of Boston's famous non profit  performing arts venue, Club Passim. The artists made two exclusive EP albums available for download, ahead of their performances at the club on 2nd August 2011, with fans deciding how much they want to pay for the recordings. The vendors consisted of anyone who helped increase sales and awareness sharing links to the music on Facebook. Vendors who secured sufficient "Likes"  were offered free tickets to the shows. Sales from the recordings were donated to Club Passim whilst sales from the shows were retained by the performers. 

The project proved successful with Kim Taylor's music raising over $230 (£143) for Club Passima, with 25 people having downloaded her album at a rate of $9.20 (£5.70) per album. The performance sold out which for Club Passima is impressive given that it is a 100 seat capacity venue. Whilst the figures might not seem explosive for one night it was a success and represents the potential this model presents. In Brazil it has contributed to the country's economic recovery, a country with pockets of extreme poverty. 

With so many arts and cultural programs losing the support of their government Microfundo offers a viable self sustaining alternative that could fill the void left by public spending cuts and even provide an alternative model for a whole new way of conducting business.Further information about this project can be found by clicking here.

Image Credit; First Daffodils

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Pechkam Space Arts Clubs Needs Funding

London's newest art venue, Peckham Space, is looking to secure funds for a series of free art clubs for young people and has turned to crowdfunding for help. Through the platform WeDidThis, Peckham Space is looking to raise funds to provide free access to creative, artistic and educational activities for young people in Peckham, London.

Peckham Space opened in June 2010 and is part of the Camberwell College of Arts, University of the Arts in London. The organisation's goal is to commission and exhibit art produced by artists in collaboration with the residents and young people of Peckham. Peckham Space is driven to encourage the progression of young people into creative higher education as well as unlimited access to cultural and educational activity in the region.

The organisation needs to raise £2,000 for Art Clubs to be run in December. If successful, the clubs will be able to provide creative & artistic activities, and resources for 100 children in Peckham. So far they have raised £720 with just eight days to find the remainder. 

WeDidThis is a UK based crowdfunding platform whose goal is to successfully secure funding for as many arts projects as possible. The founders of the platform have set a goal of 50 projects to be funded for 2011 by bringing together a mass of potential investors and funders to make a contribution to the project of their choice.

If you would like to make a contribution and learn more about Peckham Space and its efforts then visit their page on the WeDidThis website.

Image Credit; Quisnovus

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Pepsi Max and MOFILMS Crowdsource Latest Film Competition

On the UK's leading forerunner of crowdsourced film making, MOFILM, has announced details of this year's competition for film makers to be hosted at the BFI, London Film Festival in October. The Make a Video Contest offers film makers the opportunity to produce a short film for a leading retail brand and win generous cash prizes as well an opportunity to spearhead their own campaign for a major client.

The 55th BFI (British Film Institute) London Film Festival will run for two weeks from 13th October to 28th October 2011.  Last year it attracted an audience of 132,000 attendees (it's highest on record) and featured screenings of over 200 feature films as well as 112 short films from over 68 countries. The festival also attracted 529 participating film makers competing for the event's much coveted prizes and awards.  This year marks MOFILM's third contest to be held in conjunction with the festival, and will be hosted by renowned director and member of the legendary Monty Python, Mr Terry Gilliam. 

Film makers wishing to take part are invited to visit the MOFILM Make a Video Contest web page, and select any one of the brand names available. Each brand will supply their own brief of requirements, terms of entry, and value of the prize up for grabs. Not all the brands have their contest running yet so it is advisable to visit the page regularly. One of the brand competitions available for consideration is the Pepsi 60 Seconds to Max It film challenge

Film makers are challenged to make a 60 second film for Pepsi Max encompassing any one of three specified themes, to be submitted by 26th September 2011. Prizes for each theme include a cash sum of $10,000 for first prize, and each winner will be invited to attend the Pepsi Films Award Ceremony. At this red carpet event an overall winner will be selected by a jury and the grand winner will be awarded a unique opportunity to work with Pepsi Max. Runners up will be awarded a cash prize. Click here for more details of how to enter and the prizes on offer.  

The principle behind MOFILM is to champion the plight of independent film makers, giving them the opportunity to make the films they want whilst working alongside major blue chip companies. According to co-founder Andy Baker the inspiration for MOFILMS came from the likes of actor Robert Redford and his internationally renowned Sundance Film Festival, and Oscar winning actor Kevin Spacey. Through its crowdsourced competitions, MOFILM has awarded over £1million in prize money, which has allowed some participants to set up their own business, and even secured them further employment opportunities. 

Image Credit; rjw1

Crowdsourcing & Social Media Help Heal UK Communities After Riots

The British media is focussed on only one story today; the riots which started on Saturday 6th August escalated across various parts of London as well as other cities including Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol. The police are having to continue their investigations and emergency services dousing the raging fires, and attending to those injured, amidst continuously repeated incidents. Underneath all this, fractured and still angry communities are rallying together to clean up their neighbourhoods and making use of social media and crowdsourcing to find help with this thankless task.

The Big Clean Up

With certain media outlets focussing on how social media and instant messaging was used to rally scores of thugs to carry out precision attacks, it seems that it has been reclaimed for a more positive use. Using the #riotcleanup hashtag on Twitter, local residents putt out the call for help in clearing away the remnants of the devastation. Melted wheelie bins, burned out cars, and assortment of other debris scatter the streets of areas hit by the riots, but there are simply not enough people to help due to work commitments and the difficult task of clearing up their own wrecked homes and businesses. 

The response has been overwhelming with a website established to provide those who are able and willing to help, with information as to what can be done. The #riotcleanup tag  is awash with offers of help as well as messages of support boosting morale for those with rolled up sleeves and in the thick of it. Labour politician John Prescott, actor Simon Pegg and writer/comedian Graham Linehan have all been on Twitter making sure the message is continuously spread with regular tweets and updates. 

Police & Social Media on the Hunt

Whilst there is some indication of understanding as to the situation which led to the riots, the perpetrators it seem have incurred the wrath of much of the UK and the communities caught in the crossfire of hurled debris and petrol bombs. 

So that the public can help in the capture of those involved in the riots, police have posted CCTV stills of suspected rioters and looters on their flickr stream asking people to look through them and call if they recognise any of the individuals. The page has been circulated throughout Twitter by users and it seems that "Catch a Looter" has become one of the UK's top trending topics. It is too early to indicate whether or not this is proving a success, only time will tell. 

In what has been one of the darkest days for the UK and its citizens, social media and crowdosurcing have mobilised people in a singular display of compassion and humanity. It proved to be a symbol of defiance in the wake of wanton destruction and violence by thugs seemingly intent on causing chaos. It also provided some iconic images more likely to be associated with the riots than the all to familiar scenes of destruction. 

Image Credit;

Monday, 8 August 2011

Guardian Newspaper Crowdsources London Riots

The Tottenham riots in London, escalated following a peaceful protest over the shooting of Mark Duggan by armed police. Shops were set alight and looted, homes were destroyed, and many people were injured during the ensuing violence. As on the scene reports are posted on-line and on social networks, reasons as to why the riots broke out in the first place seemed unclear, shrouded in passionate outbursts, and speculation. The Guardian newspaper therefore launched a crowdsourcing survey of those who witnessed the riots, and Tottenham residents in the hopes of providing another dimension to the news reports. 

The results of the survey, compiled by data journalist James Ball have been posted on the newspaper's DataBlog page. The survey was conducted alongside onsite reporters who interviewed witnesses, residents and even participants, all of whom were anonymously cited in the report. Views as to what started the riots have included police conduct, criminal and thuggish behaviour, yet a common concern seems to point to the socio economic situation in Tottenham. The level of poverty and disenfranchisement believed to have been amplified by poor employment opportunities are seen as the powder and Mark Duggan's shooting, the spark that lit the fuse. 

Despite a call to communities to maintain calm, riots continue to break out (even as this article is being compiled) in various parts of London, including Peckham, Hackney and Lewisham. The Guardian has indicated that it would continue to examine the causes of the riots with a crowdsourced survey to take into account the latest outbreaks. You can read James Ball's report by clicking here

Image Source; Michael Bruntonspall

Link with Friends on Facebook Without Computer or Smartphone

Facebook is experimenting with technology enabling users to access and update their profiles without the the use of a computer or mobile enabled phones. Instead of carrying your laptop or tablet around, the user is presented with a wristband or badge containing an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chip to access and update their Facebook profiles at designated stations. The system emerged last year at an Israeli amusement park, the Coca-Cola Village and is already being used by recognisable blue chip names with some notable success.

Dorst & Lesser is a Dutch advertising firm that specialises in helping its clients maximise the potential of social media. The company already successfully used this method of interaction with Facebook at the Dutch Autorei exhibition for Renault. Attendees would be issued with chip-enabled badges to "Like" their favourite Renault model by swiping their badges on terminal pillars. Their latest venture is with trendy Spanish hotelier Ushuaïa.

Located in the holiday resort and party capital of the world Ibiza, Ushuaïa caters to those who enjoy the night life and the music scene, and is often used as a paying concert venue. Hotel guests and concert goers are issued with a wristband containing an RFID chip which synchronises with their Facebook profiles. By swiping any one of the pillars located throughout the hotel, people can upload pictures and post status updates. Other users can view these posts on  Ushuaïa's wall. 

Facebook integration Ushuaïa Beach Hotel from Dorst & Lesser // Social Media on Vimeo.

The advantage of this system is that allows guests to leave their laptops at home thus lessening the risk of loss or damage. It also saves significant costs on roaming charges incurred when trying to  connect with your smartphone. Within the first week of going live the hotel has doubled its Facebook fan conversion rate from 1000 to 2000 per week during which guests have taken over 1200 pictures.

With Ushuaïa singing the system's praises with such encouraging numbers, Dorst & Lesser's creative director Niels Verhoeven stated that there had been interest in developing the same network from hotels and businesses across the globe, with India possibly being the next port of call.

Friday, 5 August 2011

HSBC The First Bank to Embrace Crowdsourcing?

One of the world's banking giants HSBC has entered the foray of crowdsourcing. On 1st August 2011, first direct, one of the divisions of HSBC launched its new online platform, the first direct Lab. The platform aims to garner customer views to foster product design and service development through various methods of online interaction.

Every month, first direct lab will be populated with fresh content such as website designs, ideas for new products and service improvements. The platform, designed and implemented by Leeds Digital Agency, allows users to view the content and post views through the site's comment box and forum. All feedback received is then collated and passed to the bank's developmental team. 

Such concepts being considered include a revised website design, consultation on the use of QR codes (two dimensional barcodes that can be scanned by smartphones) and a mobile phone app providing a mortgage comparison service. Users will also be able to participate in weekly polls, lending their views on the prospect of a first direct innovation.
We're constantly looking at new ways of communicating with customers and the public, and the first direct Lab is a natural progression for us. We want people to inform our offering and in doing so help us serve them better.This is about changing the way people interact with banks by giving them a stake in some of the products and services that allow them to manage their personal finances. -Paul Say, Head of Marketing, first direct.
first direct is the first bank using crowdsourcing to engage with its customers and the general public working to create new products and enhance existing services. The bank prides itself on using social media and digital platforms such as Live and Talking Point, to share up to date information with its customers and enabling them to provide feedback on their banking experiences.

Image Credit; HowardLake

Thursday, 4 August 2011

CrowdFlower Unveils New Executive Line Up

One of the world's leading providers of crowdsourcing solutions, CrowdFlower has announced a new line up to the company's executive team. Woodson "Woody" Hobbs has been named the new CEO of CrowdFlower replacing the current CEO and founder Lukas Biewald. Joining Hobbs will be Richard Arnold (with whom Hobbs has worked with previously) to assume the post of chief financial officer and vice president of strategy and corporate development.

Woody Hobbs brings to his new role a wealth of long term executive experience as well as an understanding of the technology business. His previous roles include CEO of Phoenix Technologies and Intellisync, and CIO of leading investment corporation , Charles Schwab. It was during his latter role that Hobbs led the way in technology design and product innovation which doubled productivity and saw the company's customer base increase from 200,000 to over 2 million. 

Richard Arnold worked with Hobbs at the same companies as COO and CFO of Phoenix Technologies, Chairman of the Board of the Audit Committee at Intellisync and CFO and executive vice president for strategy and corporate development. In these roles, Arnold was instrumental in driving operational excellence whilst developing effective product strategies.

The addition of Woody and Rich is a milestone for CrowdFlower as a company and crowdsourcing as an industry. Such an endorsement underscores the fundamental role that crowdsourcing will play in the enterprise as the future of work becomes virtual, scalable, and pay as you go. I'm excited to have Woody and Rich on board to help make it happen. - Lukas Biewald, Executive Chairman and Founder CrowdFlower
Since it was launched in 2007, CrowdFlower has grown into one of the world's leaders in enterprise crowdsourcing. CrowdFlower's crowdsourcing platform helps tackle problems such as product categorization, funding, and data processing. Under the leadership of its founder Luka Biewald,  CrowdFlower's clients range from small startups to Fortune 500 giants all of whom benefit from the increased flexibility, turnaround time and cost savings that crowdsourcing can offer. 

With the appointments of both Woody Hobbs and Richard Arnold along with Biewalk staying on as executive chairman, the company has the opportunity to capitalise on growth opportunities and take advantage of previously unrealised markets. CrowdFlower could also venture into technical innovation which would help introduce crowdsourcing solutions into those new markets.

Image Credit; Sunsets For You

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Crowdsourcing Helps With Photographers Earning Potential

Photographers all over the world can now find potential work and reap financial rewards thanks to an Australian based website. makes finding suitable images for buyers much easier with its global community of 1300 photographers. The site announced on 2nd August it is looking to increase the number of photographers within its community offering potential registrants the prospect of working with various blue chip clients and especially world renowned advertising agencies.

Whether it's journalists, ad agencies or even web designers, all are aware of the difficulties involved in finding the right images for their project. The  task of trawling through online digital libraries containing countless images can be quite daunting especially if unsuccessful in finding the right one. The ImageBrief site acts as an intermediary between professional photographers and potential buyers, and registration with the site is free.
We are creating the situation of putting suppliers and the end users together - in this case photographers and those requiring photographic images. Our sophisticated and moderated use of crowd-sourcing techniques allows creative clients the opportunity to brief photographers on their exact needs, saving them time and money. - Meg Moss, Co-Founder ImageBrief
Clients looking for images upload a brief of their requirements to the site for the community of photographers to review. The photographers (image providers) then in turn respond with a selection of images from their portfolio. The buyer can select a single and/or multiple images from more than one provider. Upon a successful bid, the image provider receives 70% of the license fee offered by the buyer whilst retaining the intellectual property rights of the images. 

ImageBrief  is looking to increase the numbers of its global community of image providers as well as fresh images to bolster its increasing library. Specifically the company is looking for photographers specialising in the following fields; 
  • nature and wildlife
  • fashion and lifestyle
  • sports and recreation
  • design and architecture. 
For photographers, ImageBrief offers the potential to earn double the average commission rate. This allows any photographer looking to earn a living from their craft the opportunity to market their portfolio of work to high profile clients and retain copyright of their material. Further information including details of current briefs along with full terms and conditions can be found at the ImageBrief website.

Image Credit; Thamid Munaz

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Music Production Gets the Social Media Makeover

Musicians are no doubt already aware of the power of social media and the internet to promote themselves and their material with sites such as YouTube and Facebook. is the latest social media platform available to musicians and designed to specifically enable them to spread their music to a much wider audience.

Whilst conventional social networking sites are suitable for this purpose, is specifically geared to creating a one stop shop for independent fledgling artists to share their music with interested fans and music lovers alike. 

The site is free to use and incorporates users' existing social networking accounts to access their YouMusic page. Once logged in, artists will have their video and audio files along with blog posts added to their YouMusic page. At the same time the site will post updated material to their Facebook wall and Twitter feeds, all of which are easily accessible by their fans.
We are constantly looking to add more value to independent musicians. Our latest deployment is the ability for musicians to fast-track the login process with their social media logins such as Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and LinkedIn, which also leads to their ability to promote their new music to the social media. - Shelva Navah, CEO YouMusic Inc.

The advantage of YouMusic over other social networking sites is that it affords users more time. Using social media to promote music can be time consuming especially if artists rely on other means to generate income. The YouMusic platform provides a central hub from which users can promote their material across different sites without having to carry out numerous tasks. This makes it easier for the artists to maximise the promotion possibilities of their music whilst able to fit it all around their busy life. 

Image Credit; Pip R. Lagenta

Monday, 1 August 2011

Challenging Press Prejudice Against Social Media

Whenever a story hits the mainstream news about social media and networking it is almost always shown in a negative light, or so I have observed in a number of instances. Take for example an article posted by the Daily Mail on Saturday 30th July 2011 with the following headline;
Facebook and Twitter are creating a vain generation of self-obsessed people with child-like need for feedback, warns top scientist
The article penned by Sarah Harris cites comments made by Baroness Greenfield, professor of pharmacology at Oxford University. She believes that friendships forged over the Internet through social networking sites are rewiring our brains thus having a detrimental effect on our concentration and ability to engage with people face to face. In her damning of social media the academic Baroness points her accusatory finger at Facebook and Twitter.

What is interesting to note (and not surprising given it is the Daily Mail) upon reading the article is the lack of any empirical evidence and balance. Ms Harris' article makes no reference to any study carried out by the Baroness so there are no results to examine and refute.There also seems to be an absence of factual statements, instead referring to the Baroness' beliefs or suggestions . Yet the article presents negative and at times stereotypical views of social media users as statements of facts, and even overlooked that Baroness Greenfield made similar claims in an article by The Guardian newspaper

The Daily Mail article has obviously decided to exclude any counter arguments as to the benefits of social media, and cyber interaction. Such benefits include reuniting old friends, schoolmates and work colleagues, and even estranged family members. It also bypasses the ability of social media in providing a more intricate way of keeping in touch with friends and loved ones, be the in the next town, city, or continent. Other omissions include;
  • breaking real time news, 
  • monitoring crisis situations all over the world, 
  • making it possible for even more philanthropic ventures to gain support
  • even helping to solve and/or prevent crimes.
Yet almost all of this can be forgiven since very little of these feature boldly in the mainstream. The most disturbing aspect of Ms Harris' article however is the Baroness' negative profiling of social media users.

It seems the Baroness has damned us all as lazy, infantile, and egotistic sharing banal information about our lives seeking attention by the bucket loads. This might be true of some but by presenting them as facts The Daily Mail has indulged in an exercise of irresponsible journalism. It fails to make any mention of the countless scientists, authors, and other social & political commentators who use social media to share information and engage in healthy debate. The news outlet also ignores those Twitter followers and Facebook friends who are in fact well educated and well read, keep up to date on current events around the world, and even display a sense of social responsibility and moral concerns. 

The Daily Mail article is far from being a balanced reporting of facts supported with evidence but rather a mish-mash of assumptions and perhaps an expression of personal disdain on the part of the Baroness.  It serves no purpose other than to fuel the fire of the Mail's readers who already make such negative assumptions, and thus the article validates their hostile reactions. The Daily Mail would do well to consider this article by Kelly Rusk, and perhaps do a little more research into the benefits of social media.

Image Credit: Ed Yourdon