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14 February 2009 ~ 4 Comments                                       

Part 8: Collaborative Content Creation; or, Crowdsourcing your way to creativity

Crowdsourcing or collaboratively creating content of any kind becomes dicey very quickly and the odds of creating something greater than the sum of its parts are low. In fact, creating by committee generally leads to utter crap. (When was the last time you read and enjoyed a story written line by line by contributors?) But with collaborative sites and, in my view, a talented orchestrator, it might be possible to create something of quality or, at least, facilitate an interesting experience, regardless of the end product. Wikipedia has been talked to death as what is likely the greatest implementation of collaborative content creation in history but few projects have risen above the level of a chaotic mess.

Collaborative (or crowdsourced) content creation: A group effort to contribute to and edit portions of content for the expressed aim of producing a specific overarching project.

A Swarm of AngelsFor some reason, examples of collaborative creativity keep popping up in the film-making arena. It’s Our Movie began with a script and a director (Alex Jovy, an Oscar Nominated Producer) and used the community to find its actors. (While this may not technically fall under “content creation”, it does bring a community into the overall creative process of a film.) Anyone could upload an audition for one of the characters and then the best were voted up. A Swarm Of Angels was a more ambitious project in which everything from the concept to script, casting to funding was created by the crowd. (It was up and running for several years but now the website is under construction, status unclear.)

CoWrite is essentially a script writing competition in 10 page increments. Each week anyone can enter a submission (along with $10) and, each week, the best entry is awarded $3,000 by an internal panel of judges and becomes the next 10 pages of the script. The final script will then be rewritten by one of the weekly winners who will be paid $5K. Another perk of winning is a meeting with Benderspink (Production company behin American Pie, A History of Violence) who will also review the final script and decide what to do with it from there.

Assignment Zero, a project sparked by Jeff Howe who coined “crowdsourcing” and Jay Rosen, began with the goal of having “a crowd of volunteers write the definitive report on how crowds of volunteers are upending established businesses, from software to encyclopedias and beyond.” Jeff Howe considered it “a highly satisfying failure“.

In some cases, the experience of contributing itself becomes the purpose of a project, not what is produced in the end. Contributing a sentence to a growing story can be enjoyable and creatively inspiring regardless of the poor end result of the totality of the project. And, as creative types know, most of what you produce, regardless of your brilliance and success, will be poor.

Any other examples I’ve missed?

A Swarm of Angels
It’s Our Movie (The movie is in production as of winter 08/09.)
Ze Frank The great and noble Ze Frank who has called on his community to write, draw, execute power moves, and make earth sandwiches in order to create works of art and entertainment and bring joy to the downtrodden…
Assignment Zero
Protagonize supports “addventure” which is collaborative writing in which people can branch stories off into new paths
Spike Lee Nokia Ad

Read the rest of the Crowdsourcing article series.

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