Tag Archives: network intelligence

Crowdsourcing Event Timelines with HistoWiki

3349572686_dae2224f87_oAnyone who is familiar with the movie Vantage Point knows that different perspectives tell a different story, and unlike holography – one truth does not necessarily reflect the sum of truth, so an experiment like Histowiki could be a controversial issue. However, it might also add depth and context to events that otherwise seemed unanchored and random.

Topics that are currently up for scrutiny and commentary include the Google Glasses timeline, US Coverage of the Benghazi Embassy Attack, the Tea Party Scandal, the God Particle, and Bob Dylan (among others).

All a user has to do is create a member profile, submit a topic and begin citing and sharing sources. Other comments can be contributed in the user comments section. But it’s still being built and as the work-in-progress confirmation email will tell you “As soon as some spokes in this wheel are in place, I will get notifications of those further changes with HistoWiki.com sent to you via email.” It doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

And, unlike other wiki pages, Histowiki is ad-supported, which may effect its subscription rates and user participation. However, the subjects that are treated so far do seem fairly fleshed out.

What other topics would be good for timeline review? I, for one, would be interested in the drama of the Boston Marathon as reported by the news. Do you think this could further focus or distort communal storytelling?

5 Reasons Why Crowdsourcing is Beneficial for Online Education

Colaboracao2This post is guest written by Rene Wilson of DegreeJungle. She has outlined an introduction to crowdsourcing as it applies to online education.

The term “crowdsourcing” comes with a wide range of definitions, but basically it is the process of utilizing idea-based, problem solving inputs by a community. When the specific community is vested in the outcome, they tend to become more involved with finding the solution for the problem at hand. Based on this description, is it possible that online education students, faculty and universities could benefit from crowdsourcing? Here are five reasons why crowdsourcing is beneficial for online education.

1. Campaigning for Prospective Students
College students, high school students, and those who are considering returning to college are perfect targets for a crowdsourcing campaign. Mobile devices, the internet and social media sites are the primary methods of communication among many students and prospective students, making them the perfect source for not only campaigning, but collaborating. Instead of sending out surveys, polls and invitations to a college open house, universities can reach thousands by simply post enticing information about their programs.

2. Expert Solutions
Collaboration and participation are important in making an education system the best it can possibly be and crowdsourcing is the perfect way to “unite” educators, professionals, teachers and students who want to contribute their knowledge and experience. The majority of colleges and universities look for contributing staff members with an expertise in the specific area in which they currently have a need for. In some cases, this does not necessarily mean the educator is an expert in the field they are teaching; it simply means they met the basic qualifications for a particular subject. Crowdsourcing is the perfect solution for gathering experts with something to share, without being a staff member of one particular university. It allows experts from around the world to collaborate on a particular problem and participate in finding the solution without being in the same classroom.

3. Money Saving Encouragement
Online education is already a step towards a loose interpretation of crowdsourcing (crowdsourcing an audience of students), in that students are being taught a subject while being miles away from the instructor. An online educator may be in a completely different country from the students enrolled in the course. Studies have shown that when students are responsible for grading and critiquing their classmates, their final scoring is equal to that of the instructor and when a student or group of students are given the task of initiating the subject of study, they tend to put more effort into the project, because it is a sense of empowerment being in control of their suggestions. Crowdsourcing is the opportunity for universities to decrease the amount of mandatory instruction hours, by allowing the students to collaborate on class assignments, problem solving and grading.

4. Designing Lessons
Some online universities employ one instructor to teach multiply courses and in reality most instructors do not have the time to create a combined flow of lessons. Crowdsourcing eliminates the ideas and planning of one instructor who is attempting to research, design and connect a science class, an economics class and a literature class. Instead there is a collaboration of hundreds of people, all of which have individual interests in a particular subject, yet are working together to create a more focused lesson plan.

5. Student Opinions
Students make up the colleges they attend and crowdsourcing is the perfect way for universities and colleges to learn what their students want. Most students want to be in the loop about what their university is doing to address their issues, crowdsourcing is a simple solution for integrating the students opinions and the how they are being addressed by the university. It is a way to avoid the end of the year, lengthy scantron surveys and get the input of the students all year around. Students, who have a feeling of involvement with their college by having their suggestions heard, are more apt to take a deeper interest and a have a sense of pride in the university they are attending.

Crowdsourcing has the ability to create a resource for virtual learning, but it will only work when it is implemented. If more universities begin to let their students take a shot at solving some of their problems, many colleges and universities may find that it provides their students with real world experiences, saves money and solves many problems in the university.

Rene Wilson is a freelance writer with a passion for educating others on the benefits of combining modern technology and higher education. She is a contributing writer for DegreeJungle and suggests you visit the site for information on the best online colleges.

For information on IdeaScale’s University offering, click here.

Introducing: IdeaScale InfoComics

webcomic_conversations_01IdeaScale likes to communicate with our members in a number of different ways. We send feature updates to our subscribers, we have this blog. We’re on Facebook and Twitter. We’re at local events, we’re at big events like Crowdopolis (register with code IS2012, by the way, and you’ll get a free hotel suite upgrade).  We like videos and essays and we’re thinking about the world of network intelligence, crowdsourcing, and innovation ALL THE TIME. We had to find a new way to let some of our ideas come out.webcomic_conversations_03

So, we’ve started talking about trends and insights in short, shareable comic strips. Two of the first ideas were about the digital world vs. the real world, making things that happen online result in things that happen offline. The second idea was about sharing the inspiration process as a built-in check and balance against faulty directions. Check them out for yourself at www.ideascale.com/infocomics.


Looking forward to creating more in the New Year!

Have any ideas or insights you’d like to see illustrated? We’d love to dream on them for you. In the meantime, enjoy and share these!webcomic_conversations_04webcomic_inspiration_01

Social Change and How the Network Contributes

Innovation is something that we need to see across all industries and disciplines. We always have, we always will. And perhaps one of the most important ways that we can share and apply knowledge is in the field of social change and welfare.

UNICEF has introduced the Innovate for Children initiative – an online platform where UNICEF shares their challenges and asks for assistance in making a real difference in the world.

Some of the challenges that UNICEF is currently looking for help with are increasing the reliability of birth registration or eliminating pneumonia child death. Each of these challenges has an individual profile where users can comment and suggest.

I am pleased to see UNICEF engaging their crowd of supporters this way, but it also reminds me of the World Cerebral Palsy Day initiative in which WCPD supporters could not only view challenges and submit ideas, they could vote on the suggestions of others. To date, the IdeaScale WCPD has seen nearly 500 suggestions with suggestion leaders including a waterproof wheelchair and voice activated GPS. Additionally, if a user feels that they can contribute to an idea’s production, they can simply click “I can invent this” – contributing not just to the innovation process, but to the realization process as well.

How else can a network serve children? What is most important to consider when introducing innovation systems for social change?

The Online Survey Done Right

Remember paper surveys?

At the end of the day, crowdsourcing comes down to one thing: communication. It’s about connection and contact that allows for communication. Yes, it allows clients and employees to tell brands or organizations their thoughts, ideas, or suggestions, but it also allows that brand or organization the opportunity to communicate something very important, as well: that they are listening and care about the people in their network.

Which is why online surveys are one of the original forms of internet crowdsourcing. Companies benefit from their audience feedback and clients or customers benefit from changes to their products or services, because of that research. And online surveys are one of the best methods to enable this kind of communication: online surveys take two-thirds less time than traditional research methods, using online surveys can halve research costs, and 90% of customers (that’s right, 90%) would prefer to answer those questions over the internet rather than other methods.

And if you’re looking for an online survey solution that’s leading the pack, then you should probably check out QuestionPro which was recently reviewed by Small Business Trends who said (among other things) “If you have made a commitment to do more market research and customer research so that you can make better decisions — then QuestionPro is a terrific tool that you can use. The 30-day free trial will give you plenty of time to create, run and analyze a survey – and if you need more time, the basic plan is only $15 per month — so it’s not a huge investment to try.”

That’s one of the key differentiators: that QuestionPro is offering the top functionality and survey technology at a price that is not prohibitive to the small business owner – one of the audiences that can most benefit from this type of research

According to the Aberdeen Group: “70% of customer experience management best in class adopters use customer feedback to make strategic decisions.” That’s how customers can help change businesses and make them succeed. And the medium that they are using for that communication? Online surveys.

What other research methods are out there? How else does research give a company a competitive edge?

How Are You Using the Crowd?

Crowdsourcing and Crowdfunding – the industries are exploding overnight. Econsultancy recently posted a new review of statistics for the crowdfunding industry alone and predicts that by the end of 2012, there are expected to be more than 530 crowdfunding platforms (that’s growth of 60%).  However, it’s not just crowdfunding. There are six categories that are defined within the current crowdsourcing taxonomy. They are:

Cloud Labor: leveraging a virtual labor pool, which accounted for 8% of all online crowd activities in 2011.
Crowdfunding: seeking financial support from online investors, which accounted for 22% of all crowdsourcing platforms in 2011.
Open Innovation: sourcing new ideas, suggestions and innovation from the crowd. 10% of all crowdsourcing platforms in 2011 were dedicated to open innovation.
Distributed Knowledge: network asset distribution through a consortium of crowd contributors. This accounted for a whopping 37% of all online crowdsourcing in 2011.
Crowd Creativity: seeking creative content from a virtual workforce. This accounted for 14% of crowdsourcing platforms in 2011.
Tools: any crowd application or platform that enabled the sharing of information across the crowd. This was about 9% of the crowdsourcing online presence in 2011.

That’s a lot of different ways to use the crowd, but the main idea is keeping in touch to both your open and closed communities, because it makes all the difference in smart business.

In a recent article for TechNet, Romi Mahajan encourages companies to embrace IT part of their business management strategy, saying at one point: “Empower yourself through knowledge. Leverage the concept of network intelligence to activate your peer group. Share your knowledge of IT experiences in other industries and domains. Through this learning process, you’ll see symmetry of patterns that indicate how vital IT is to all businesses, not just within your own company.”

How are you using your network? How are you reaching out to the crowd?


Stabilize the Debt

You can’t get through any news cycle without hearing about the financial crisis and its possible effects.  U.S. debt at this point is projected to grow to 91% of GDP by 2025, 149% in 2040 and 415% by 2080.  Obviously, these numbers are unsustainable, which makes it no surprise that people refer to the situation as a “crisis.” It is.

Now, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has introduced a new tool to help them meet their goal of reducing the debt to 60% by the year 2021: the Budget Simulator.

Who is The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget? According to their site, they are “a bipartisan, non-profit organization committed to educating the public about issues that have significant fiscal policy impact. The Committee is made up of some of the nation’s leading budget experts including many of the past Chairmen and Directors of the Budget Committees, the Congressional Budget Office, the Office of Management and Budget, the Government Accountability Office, and the Federal Reserve Board.”

The budget simulator allows you to play with some of the budget choices that will have to be made in order to meet this goal, checking different boxes to support or curtail different programs. As you go through each budgetary suggestion, the Committee provides a summary of that program and you’re faced with tough choices like increasing retirement age in order to reach your goal – only “winning” if you get the debt down to 60% by 2021… which I did not.

But by the end of the simulation, you are invited to send your personal information and the choices that you made to the policy makers who are actually solving this problem in the real world, adding your input to a vast array of voices that inform these decisions. And, of course, you’re welcome to join the discussion after you finish on The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget’s Facebook page.

For decisions that have ramefications that affect us all, I’m glad to see these sorts of tools available to the public and that the interactivity includes sending that input to the higher-ups. But really, what’s great about this tool is that it not only gives users a voice, but educates them as well.

Do you think that we’ll be able to stabilize the budget? Do you think that other government entities and non-profits should create similar tools for education and interaction?


IdeaScale Facebook Page

Facebook, the social networking monolith of our times is always updating their stats, but I recently ran across an interesting infographic from Infographic Labs that showcases some surprising highlights, including:

-That Zynga accounted for 12% of Facebook’s total revenue last year.
-That more than 250 million photos are uploaded on a daily basis.
-And that everyday there are 2.7 billion likes across Facebook.

And now IdeaScale would like to invite you to like one more. When you like us, you can get more information about interesting projects that we’re watching or supporting, you can find out about upcoming webinars, and learn more about IdeaScale offerings.

But we’re also looking to hear from you – what you want to see from IdeaScale, ideas you might have, requests for more information and great crowdsourcing and network intelligence stories that you find interesting. So please join the conversation and let’s stay connected.

And, of course, please be sure to check out the IdeaScale facebook application.

Unilever Looks to Their Network to Meet Sustainability Goals

In 2010, Unilever set out an ambitious company goal with widespread implications for their company and for their customers. The goal was to implement the Unilever Sustainable Living plan – a ten year voyage to creating a responsible company that is working to improve the world. The goal is three-pronged with the company looking to improve health and well-being throughout their organization and for their customers, reducing the environmental impact of their operations, and enhancing the livelihoods.

The program has enjoyed some measure of success so far in its first year and a half, estimating that Unilever has

  • 24% of agricultural raw materials sustainably sourced
  • 64% of palm oil now sourced sustainably
  • 48 million people reached with Lifebuoy soap handwashing programs
  • 100% of electricity purchased in Europe is now from renewable sources
  • Over 90% of leading spreads contain less than 1/3 saturated fat
  • Among many other milestones.

You can find out more about the program and its progress here.

It’s a lofty goal and one that Unilever has been praised for and is hopefully reflective of a larger-scale movement towards a sustainable future in other leading brands as well.

Most interestingly, though, they are now reaching out to the public for help in meeting some of those goals over this ten-year period, a wide-cast net for their network that could have huge ramifications for some of the major products that we consume – anything from new ideas on how to preserve food naturally to ways to aid consumers in making their own sustainable decisions.

Anyone wishing to contribute to such large-scale change first visits the Challenges and Wants site to see if there is anything that they might be able to contribute to. To submit an idea, the user is redirected to the third-party crowdsourcing partner (Yet2.com) where anyone can fill out the information form and submit their suggestion.

There’s no incentive simply to submit, other than that if Unilever reviews the idea, likes it and decides to implement, they will work to build a contract with the suggester on a case by case basis (product supply, license, technology acquisition, etc.).

In an already bold campaign, it’s good to see them so boldy looking to broaden their own horizons by reaching out to their network.

What might you suggest to Unilever? What other companies are actively working to build sustainable business models?

How to Keep it All On the Up and Up

As we’ve discussed in previous posts, President Obama has called for a new age of openness in American politics by saying, “we will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.” You can read more about the Open Government Partnership and the Open Government Initiative here.

But new initiatives that encourage openness come with a need for new and substantial accountability. Because the government continues to create and monitor several new social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and social sites as time goes on, the General Services Administration has created a social media registry where federal agencies can list their accounts on 22 social media accounts (one of which, of course, is IdeaScale).

How does it work? Well, anyone wanting to verify that they’re actually speaking to an actual government agency simply

  • visits this site (it should be up and running in two weeks)
  • types in the web address of the government site that they are engaging with
  • presses “look up”
  • receives a result that tells them what branch that account is associated with and who it is monitored by

If, for some reason, that page has not been added to the registry, then the federal employee who manages the site simply adds in their email address so that the GSA can then verify it. You can read more about it on the blog announcing the registry here.

But this leads to a larger question of accountability for anyone who is creating and managing a social media interaction with the public. It means that it behooves you not only to be available and responsive to your network, but also to know who else might be speaking to them with your authority.

How do you think users should verify their social media interaction? What other things does the new open government initiative need to consider?