The new superpower: the crowd?

Can we be strong together? (Image by: Vlado)

A lot of knowledge + a lot of money + a big network with the same aims and ethics = guaranteed collective success? One should think so… Which other factors apart from these could procure a better position of power? The phenomenon ‘crowd’, the ability to accept the swarm intelligence, is spreading.

The concept of ‘crowdsourcing’ is based on the idea that it is more likely to get better results and more right answers through the combined intelligence and experiences of a group than through anything one person alone could achieve.

But this kind of ‘swarm intelligence’ is not widely accepted yet. Often a sort of ‘if you don’t do everything yourself’-attitude prevails. In other cases individuals want all the results and the success for themselves – the thought of sharing appreciation appalls them. Instead they prefer a ‘I won’t let u copy’-mentality and work alone.

Many media people still regard ‘crowdsourcing’ as unreliable white noise of laymen. Something one might watch from afar to maybe pick up an idea for a story, which they’ll research and write themselves.

Use and appreciation of crowd-intelligence in the media

The the famous tweep Andy Carvin (@acarvin) has the mission to report on what is happening in the middle east by crowdsourcing his Twitter stream.

He channels and translates tweets and already won several awards with his work.

On the BBC Social Media summit earlier this year it was said that the results of Andy’s crowdsourcing often are incomplete and that it takes a journalist only one call to find out what Andy’s community found tediously pieced together.

But then these journalists are checking facts which maybe never would have reached them without the crowdsourcing.

One example of ‘crowdfunding’ is the community ‘kickstarter’. Here everyone can pitch a project and ask for a specific amount of donations.

This way every internet user can actively support specific projects. The downside: with almost every option of crowdfunding you might get into trouble if the entire sum cannot be collected. With kickstarter for example you wouldn’t get a penny or cent, in many other cases the pitching person has the choice of paying the rest himself.

Together we’re strong in the long run?

The documentary “we are many”, which is going to air early in 2012, claims that we

'We are many' director, Amir Amirani

only have so many people protesting right now (and therefore become part of a crowd), because the anti Irak war demonstration in 2003 managed to unite so many people.

The Arabic Spring, Occupy and even the protests in Athens are supposed to be part of this new superpower – the crowd. This behavior pattern, claims the documentary, is a rediscovered form of self-empowerment, which doesn’t let any wrongdoings in the name of society pass just like that anymore.

“Every major social success in the history of humankind was achieved through united action”, says Amir Amirani, director of the documentary.

As his documentary deals with the ‘ultimate crowd’ – the biggest protest there ever was with 13 mio. people joined in their opposition towards the Irak war – Amir Amirani also involves crowdsourcing and –funding.

Projects like his which use the power of social media and a crowd with the same goals, experiences and desires, are very likely to shape tomorrow’s media more strongly.

However, for this to happen media people need to become more open minded towards the swarm intelligence and there needs to be a crowd that really works together.

Once this is the case we should expect projects which surpass the abilities of single gatekeepers by miles.

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