Written by Tom Powell: Online enthusiast with an abnormal interest in innovative applications of technology, crowdfunding, co-design, co-creation, and crowdsourcing.

31 October 2007 ~ 6 Comments                                       

Crowdfunding and crowdauditioning a film


Itsourmovie.com is another example of a new way to finance movies (or anything really). Similar in concept to A Swarm of Angels — though, it seems, much more likely to produce something of quality — It’s Our Movie begins with a script and director (Alex Jovy, nominated for an oscar for a short film) and looks to the crowd for funding, audition tapes, and feedback. They have apparently raised ₤121,970 from the internet, but since the film is fully funded, they must have gotten the rest of the ₤1.2 million through a more traditional route.

It’s Our Movie gets right what A Swarm Of Angels does not: it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to take inputs from untold hundreds and thousands and create a coherent creative output, which is what ASOA is attempting to do. The crowd CAN identify quality outputs fairly well and can also produce quality outputs as individuals, but collaboration through the web is not conducive to voting or pulling together a script, for example, as ASOA has attempted. Alex is an experienced director, has control of the project, has done the difficult work of creating the script, and is simply using the crowd’s input wherever it is best suited.

Can’t wait to see what these two projects produce.

29 October 2007 ~ 0 Comments                                       

Self propagating user manufacturing

As I’ve written about before, some extremely cool stuff has come out of the home fabbing hobbyist camp of late.

fab-at-home.pngThis machine, for example, can replicate itself (given the right materials). Of course it’s primative, but you get the idea. A machine that costs $2,000 to make could potentially begin to make its way into the developing world (evidence of the utility of something like this can be found over at Afrigadget.) Hook up one of Negroponte’s laptops, download a design from Ponoko, throw in some raw materials, and you have a locally produced product.

Lipson and Malone’s machine is different in that it can use a number of materials, from plastics to metals with a low melting point, unlike the current rapid prototyping machines that tend to use just quick drying plastics.

“This makes them useful for making parts or components, but not for making complete systems. We’re aiming to make integrated systems, including circuitry and sensors … It’s not technology that will replace existing manufacturing process, but is more likely to augment it, by doing things that current techniques can’t do,” Lipson told CNN.

23 October 2007 ~ 0 Comments                                       

Amazon and User manufacturing

Another wicked old post from another blog that I wanted to mention regarding Amazon’s potential to facilitate user manufacturing. Frank Pillar discusses user manufacturing which he defines as:

User manufacturing… is a business model where users (customers) are becoming not only co-designers, but also manufacturers, using an infrastructure provided by some specialized companies.

As things stand now, concieving, designing, sourcing, manufacturing, promoting, and distributing a product of any kind remains a challenge. Things have progressed rapidly over the last few years and will continue to at a rapid pace. Within a few years, with companies such as Ponoko, eMachineShop (and many other built to order manufacturing shops), Threadless, and, potentiall, Amazon refining their processes and services, the most difficult portions of physical product production will become much easier.

You can rent space on Amazon’s computers to run a business, or rent out its transaction capabilities to sell things and collect money, or rent pieces of its warehouses and distribution system to store and ship items — or all of the above. So, with almost no start-up costs, anyone anywhere could become a retailer. It’s not just contracting with Amazon to sell your stuff, the way Target does. It’s leasing pieces of Amazon to create something totally unrelated to Amazon.

Complexity is hidden. Interactions between companies are standardized. Customers become more comfortable with more control through crowdsourcing, customer co-design, and mass customization. You can sit at home, use a freely available CAD system to design a product, get feedback from users, send the design to a made to order shop (or stop there and sell the design on Ponoko), promote it using online tools like Ad-words, and distribute using something like UPS’s outsourced distribution services.

One might imagine a network of local manufacturers with a certain set of skills and specializations. Just upload your design to an imagined site which lists providers, the system automatically matches your design to potential manufacturers (maybe it’s a guy down the street with a great laser cutting setup…), and perhaps you put the work up for bid.

With such incredible flexibility and standardization built into a networked and interlocking system of vendors and services, there are bound to be huge disruptions and an explosion of creativity in the physical product space.

22 October 2007 ~ 1 Comment                                       

The FLIRT Model of Crowdsourcing

I meant to write about this a while ago, but am just getting to it. Sami Viitamaki has an interesting, exhaustive overview of what one needs to consider when implementing crowdsourcing.

He looks in detail at five areas:


In addition he makes the important distinction between the various levels of participation to whom the service needs to be tailored:

  • Creators,
  • Critics
  • Connectors
  • Crowds
  • Non-participating consumers

Successful efforts follow these guidelines and you’ll see the ones that fail missing on one or many of these dimensions. Lacking transparency. Ignoring incentives (both extrinsic and intrinsic). Being exploitative. Taking as a given that your customers will care.

There is so much opportunity here, but we are sure to see many failures as companies ignore these considerations and fail miserably. Should be fun to watch.

10 October 2007 ~ 0 Comments                                       

Crowdsourcing is not slave labor.

Not to belabor the point, but this post from a while back which discusses crowdsourcing gets it right:

picture-2.png Your crowdsourcing operation needs to make sure that everyone who participates (and perhaps also, people who do not) profits from the efforts of the crowd. You can make money hand-over-fist, and the crowd won’t mind – and will even cheerfully assist – so long as they are satisfied with the benefits of their participation – that means you have to understand what those benefits are, and provide for them.

Viewing a crowdsourced project as merely a parasitic path to free labor will doom it to failure. The benefits have to flow both ways. That’s the trick.

(It will be interesting to see what happens with Second Life; after getting some huge press and some impressive numbers, it seems that it is usually a ghost town. I found this to be the case when I signed up. I went in a few times and just wondered… now what? Hopefully it will continue to evolve into something more powerful and useful/interesting.)


16 September 2007 ~ 0 Comments                                       

What comes after Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0?

According to Patricia Seybold in these two great posts from a while back, Biz 3.0.  While I don’t think we need another buzz-phrase, she does a great job of summarizing why this is all so important and lasting. Business is in the midst of being transformed by the evolution of the Internet in ways that are much deeper than have been realized thus far. By opening up businesses and bringing in customers whenever feasible, doing business takes on a whole new form, one in which leaders of the business are orchestrators of innovation and serving the customer in the best way possible using input from every available channel both internal and external.

“Customers lead us beyond a customer-empowered Web strategy to a customer outcome-driven business strategy.”

With Web 2.0, customers are talking to each other. With Enterprise 2.0 customers are talking to businesses in much more dynamic, deep, and interesting ways than ever thought possible. The line between employee and customer has become blurred in some cases and interests are aligned. Biz 3.0, as Patricia defines it, will bring those two pieces even closer together. The customer is no longer at odds with the firm but an integral part of the entire process.

Well, I think it’s exciting….

26 August 2007 ~ 0 Comments                                       

Group buying for fun and discounts

While I haven’t seen any examples of group buying in the US, there are groups in Japan (AutoTumpang Group Buy), China (Teambuy, Taobao, Liba), and Malaysia (Tumpang) who have implemented it. Very simply: groups of consumers pledge to buy or put a deposit down for products that are then bought in bulk and sold to the individuals at a discount. It works a bit differently in China, the sites mentioned facilitate “tuangou” by connecting consumers online who want to buy the same product. They then all meet at a store and negotiate for a mass group purchase at a discount, on the spot.

TeambuyIt seems to make the most sense for slower, big ticket items such as the specialty auto parts at Auto Group Buy, as opposed to the lower priced items on Tumpang. Do you really want to wait months while enough orders are collected for you to finally get your briefcase? Still, it’s a cool idea and anyone can post an item that they can procure in bulk for below retail.

Via Springwise

26 August 2007 ~ 0 Comments                                       

Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing Projects List

Although I’ve highlighted a good number of these already, Openeur has a great list of on-going crowdsourcing and open innovation projects. Shows the range of cool stuff happening and points to the possibility for much more to come.