How to explain Crowdsourcing to someone who listens to music!

Posted: August 25, 2012 in E20, Social Media

Share Music by laihiu, on Flickr

For the last few years i’ve been the face of Social Media at work, in particular our internal social media strategy. What that means is lots of workshops, discussions and above all sessions of explaining various concepts like blogs, wikis etc. While I sometimes get a shock when a seemingly tech savvy person tells me they “aren’t a Facebook person” or “they don’t have a computer at home” I understand that consumer social media, and indeed the internet is like cooking at home, some people do it, other’s don’t.

Regardless of whether or not they are a Facebook person, at work we want them to reap the benefits of a collaborative platform. To do that you have no doubt read that calling your social intranet “Facebook for work” is about the surest way is drive people away in the shortest amount of time. Always tying the initiative back to WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) is key coupled, with simple training and above all simple contextual and relevant explanations.

It’s with that in mind that I’m always on the look out for real world examples of technology concepts. My mind must slowly be organising itself in this context because the other day I told my 2.5 year old daughter that the dishwasher was “like a shower for dirty dishes” (I was trying to head off a crying session because I was putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher).

My latest tie back to the real world is around crowd sourcing. I was on the bus and the driver had Pink Floyd “Wish you were here” playing. I’m a bit of a fan of Pink Floyd but I wouldn’t say I know all the “b-sides” or more obscure tracks. In fact I’d say all songs that I like you probably like (assuming you are a pink floyd fan) because they are the most famous. There’s no doubt a lot of crazy stat’s and models that show why they are the most famous but in it’s simplest form.

  • The song is released and a number of people proclaim they like it
  • Because those early people liked it other’s will start playing it more – your friends might pick it up and share it, radio stations will play etc
  • It spreads among music listeners more and more
  • Radio stations play it more often
  • It might get picked up on a TV commercial
  • etc etc

In effect, unless you take the next step and dig into the b-sides or buy the albums and listen them through, you have crowd sourced your music selection because of it’s general appeal and widespread use. You have crowd sourced it because the crowds have deemed that that song or artist is worthy and generally you’ll implicitly trust the crowds. Again the reason’s why you like the same music are debatable – some say it’s groupthink or evolutionary response to wanting to be part of crowd, other’s might argue that the power of the masses & statistic will bubble anything that has the widest appeal to the top. Off topic for this post but interesting to raise is once you scratch the surface on any of these theories you realise that despite the seemingly global appeal you’ll always get sub-groups of sub-groups of sub-groups, each being driven by the same factors of crowd acceptance etc.

Just like social media, in the music listening world there are the people out the front scouring for the latest and greatest. There are people that are watching those frontrunners ready to eagerly consume and share the content. Then there are the masses that find content simply because it’s so widespread. It might be on the news, in the paper, your friends might be talking about it. And when your mum share’s it on Facebook you know it’s hit mainstream.

My concept probably needs a little more work to tie it back to the commonly associated activity for crowd scouring – ideas & innovation – however starting with music sharing is probably a good place to start in explaining a fancy word for ubiquitous activity.

  1. Mike S.. says:

    Nicely written article Lincoln. I think that crowdsourcing one’s music has been around for many many years. Just think about the top 40 and other chart shows. People listen to those shows and then buy their music based on that.

    I like the design too.

    • lincdk says:

      Absolutely Mike. Barry Bissell was the ultimate frontrunner that us crowdsourcers looked to. 🙂

      • Shefali says:

        scary thing is I think Barry Bissell is still around…or am i thinking of the love god (his name eludes me…).

        Maybe i will use the crowdsourcing ideology for astro-turf/ japanese gardens….if i get more than 3 hits i will declare a loss.

      • lincdk says:

        Haha! Love song dedications with Richard Mercer! Tragic but yep crowd sourced love songs!

        Some context for others is that Shefali is keen for a low maintenance Japanese garden! Any suggestions for a site she can crowd source the burning question – to AstroTurf or not to AstroTurf?

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