Be One With the Crowd
Great to see all the commentary and coverage of Jeff Howe's keynote on crowdsourcing during Tech.
What baffles me is the conceptual disconnect in not understanding crowdsourcing as being one and the same as the essence of what member associations are at their core. Lisa somewhat captures this in her "love" post, but still references crowdsourcing as something other. Which also reminds me of Douglas Rushkoff's lecture on how "people want to be geeks for the things they care about," a few Annuals ago.
Don't be fooled. While crowdsourcing is what those Web 2.0 whizkids call it, it's what good associations have been doing all along!
Three IGDA examples come to mind:
- Example1: Whitepaper Writing. To this day, I don't really know who they do it, but our Casual Games Special Interest Group writes an annual whitepaper with dozens of contributors from across the globe and they edit/publish it via our wiki. When converted to pdf format, it's usually over 100 pages long, and is considered a definitive resource for the industry. It is produced for free completely via volunteer labor, and it is made available for completely free.
A few years back, one board member thought it wise to package up the value in their paper and sell it (or at least put it behind the members-only fence). When discussed with the SIG, they were ready to mutiny. They purposefully contributed their knowledge freely on the assumption it would be shared as far and wide as possible, to help others as much as possible and done in the context of their love for their profession/industry. So ya, we dropped that idea fast and don't plan to charge for whitepapers or make them for members-only.
(As an aside, that whitepaper example is a perfect case of narrowly defined business models getting in the way..)
- Example2: Facebook. A handful of the IGDA's long time members felt it was important for us to leverage the rise of social networks, like Facebook, etc. So, they went ahead and started a Facebook group, which got up to a few thousand members and a ton of activity, before I or anyone on staff even knew about it. I found out when one member invited me to join the group! They've since handed over the "keys", but their passion for the org pushed them to bring it where they felt it was needed, and members just want about connecting and creating value for each other.
- Example3: Global Game Jam. This very weekend, nearly 2000 student, amateur and professional game developers with endure a 48-hour marathon to create quick-and-dirty experimental video games. And, it'll be done across 52 different sites in 23 countries. The effort is the collaboration of several chapters and SIGs, and the IGDA staff barely got involved (ok, well, we put up the cash to purchase the domain name, and help ship out some materials). We're not making a penny from the effort, but wow, those developers are going to have an experience of a lifetime!
I see my work and the work of the IGDA as a race to keep up with the crowd, to hand members water bottles from the side of the road and cheer them on as they head up the mountain stretch. Sadly, I see too many association putting up hurdles in the path, worrying about control and brand and revenue streams, getting caught up with fancy technical terms.
Be one with the crowd, or risk being trampled!
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