Q&A: Jeff Howe on Crowdsourcing @ Wired’s Virtual Office

Jeff Howe on Crowdsourcing @ WIRED in SL
Photo by Chris Baker

Last Friday, Jeff Howe stopped by the virtual Wired office inside Second Life to address an audience of two dozen avatars about his idea of crowdsourcing and what it means for virtual worlds. Being super-busy, I couldn’t attend the event, but thankfully Chris Baker (Wired’s Associate Editor) has posted a transcript and some pictures from the event.

In this Questions and Answers transcript, you’ll see:
1. Crowdsourcing defined (a different kind of outsourcing)
2. Good examples of crowdsourcing
3. How Second Life epitomizes crowdsourcing
4. Comparison to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk
5. Whether Crowdsourcing is being used as sweatshop labor?
6. “Work” becoming “Fun”
7. Ideas on new incentive systems

One way I explain this crowdsourcing idea to friends is by comparing World of Warcraft to Second Life. You pay a high subscription fee to Blizzard since they regularly produce new game content for you as you play, while in Second Life, it’s the residents who build and decide where to take the virtual world next. In other words, it’s not just a matter of price (Linden Labs could raise fees if they wanted to), but more of a matter of who has control of their particular intellectual space. While some of us relish this idea, some users get turned away by after trying Second Life because it doesn’t make sense to them. Perhaps they should think of it as renting a furnished apartment versus buying an empty house where you have to take time to furnish it, but the higher level of involvement creates a higher sense of ownership. What do you think?

Read Jeff Howe’s transcript on Wired…

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