Saturday, February 27, 2010

Crowd Sourcing and Disruption

Pratt's Undergraduate Communications Design department will host a panel discussion on the emergence of crowd sourcing models in the design and communication industries.

Crowd sourcing is a new and often hard to define term that refers to using information technology to parcel work out to a large group.

Crowd sourcing models have already completely changed the stock photography business and appear to be spreading to other sectors of the creative economy.

The speakers will help the audience uncover what crowd sourcing is, what the implications are for designers and what an appropriate response might be for those working in affected industries.
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Friday, February 26, 2010

Agencies launch co-creation initiative

The Co-Creation Hub, a collective of agencies, organisations, academics and individuals, is launching with a strategy to be a “more collaborative, adaptive and continuous model of marketing.”

The founding members of The Co-Creation Hub London are Face, the co-creation planning agency, which has co-created projects for international companies such as Coca-Cola, Nokia, Unilever, and Reckitt Benckiser; advertising agency Farm, which has co-created communications for Nestle’s Skinny Cow; media planning agency Opticomm; Touch of Mojo, the brand design agency; and thrudigital, the social media development agency.

The Hub founders are actively looking for organisations and individuals from different fields that share their way to get involved and help develop the co-creation movement.

They say that The Co-Creation Hub London is the first of a planned number of Hubs across the world, as the principle of co-creativity grows and develops in territories such as Latin America, Asia and the USA.

Andrew Needham, founding partner of Face, says:”The Co-Creation Hub London recognises that social media isn’t simply another channel; it has fundamentally changed the way consumers interact with brands.

“We need a more collaborative, adaptive and continuous model of marketing - one that is based on the core co-creation principle of doing things with people not at them. We call it Adaptive Brand Planning. It is a model that will ultimately be better placed in helping our clients deal with the advent of social brands”.

The Hub says that its key principles include constant consumer involvement throughout the entire marketing planning and brand communications process; a continuous process with no end points, and the creation of communities and fan-bases with constant contact with them.

The first project is Co-Create London, an independent initiative asking Londoners to join together to air their most pressing issues and help devise solutions. It is a social initiative giving Londoners the chance to change their city and is a “gift” to the capital.

The project is designed to crowdsource the problems and ideas of the general public by asking the question ’What Would You Do To Make London a Better Place?’ Tangible ideas from the crowdsourcing phase will be taken forward into a co-creation workshop and the top three ideas collected from the co-creation workshop will be put up for voting online. The idea with the most votes will then be presented to London Mayor Boris Johnson.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Epicenter The Business of Tech Bankrupt, Crowd-Funded SellaBand Acquired by German Investors

SellaBand, the bankrupt crowd-funded online record label, announced late Wednesday afternoon that it has found buyers and a new CEO in Munich, Germany. The announcement says the site, which tried to reinvent the traditional model by raising tens of thousands of dollars from fans to fund the creation of albums, will go back online tomorrow.

This acquisition comes after SellaBand weathered some heavy storms: the revelation last Thursday that its prize catch — the rap group Public Enemy — was losing investors, asking its creditors for a provisional suspension of payments on Friday, and then filing for bankruptcy in the Court of Amsterdam on Monday.

Since August 2006, 43 bands got full funding for an album, which typically meant gathering $50,000 from investors, who received a copy of the album for a minimum investment or share in sales revenue for higher investments.

But even though the company kept one third of revenue from the sale of released albums, plus interest from the escrow accounts before albums were made, it lost money.

“The problem is that the business model is not bringing profits,” said SellaBand founder Pim Betist. He left the Amsterdam-based company he conceived in 2001 as a Friendster-style approach to funding music, about a year and a half ago. “That’s why they’re suffering, and that’s why they went bankrupt, and now they need to let go of the concept.”

Or, as Dutch Twitter user Luwte put it, “Sellaband failliet,” which translates strictly as “SellaBand bankrupt” or loosely as “SellaBand: FAIL.”

Wednesday afternoon, CEO Johan Vosmeier announced in a statement on the site that he has stepped down and that Munich-based entrepreneur Michael Bogatzki is taking over. Bogatzki’s LinkedIn page says he’s “looking for fresh and new-media ideas/start-ups.” Another online profile says he has done marketing work for Sony BMG and markets an adult lubricant.
The real lesson here: While the crowd has great powers, not everyone in that crowd should be trusted with a guitar.

The new CEO says he “will continue to advance this fantastic platform while acting in the spirit of the SellaBand community and its founders.” (We asked him whether he bought all the company’s assets, and hope to report more on who owns the company now soon.)

Vosmeier, a former Sony/BMG executive himself, said the above statement represents the full extent of what he has to say on the topic, for now anyway.

“I have spoken at length with the people who have bought and am totally convinced that they are just as committed as we always were to build a solid future for SellaBand. What is extremely important to me is that the new company, called SellaBand GmbH and to be operated out of Munich in Germany, will respect our commitments towards Believers and also to those artists who are currently recording their SellaBand album, and/or are about to release their music,” wrote Vosmeijer. “There is no doubt in my mind that ‘crowdfunding’, as they call it, is a blessing for artists in the 21st century and that this concept has the potential to cure what’s been ailing the traditional music industry for so long.”

Founder Betist agrees with Vosmeijer and Bogatzi that all is not lost for the idea of crowd-financed music. He blamed the company’s bankruptcy on a combination of old-school record industry ways and new-school misplaced optimism. For instance, listing any band that applies might work for iTunes, but for any other music concern, curation is key. Betist said he expects the new owners to keep Sellaband running in its current state for the next few months, then make some tweaks.

The site’s investors understandably wondered whether their money is safe, which it was, according to Betist. That’s because before a band hits its financing goal, whatever money it manages to raise is kept in an escrow account to be returned if the album never gets made. Before that, Billboard reported another bad sign: that the site’s most popular group — Public Enemy — failed to reach the $250,000 it sought through the site to record an album and was losing investors, although it did raise over $70,000 at one point.

This note currently appears on the Sellaband website. Insiders expect an acquisition to be announced this week.

The note announcing the bankruptcy appeared on the Sellaband website, which was otherwise offline.

Sellaband’s crowdsourced music-financing experiment seemed promising, and in its three-plus years, it attracted thousands of artists (cached version) and financed dozens of CD and download releases, so it wasn’t a total failure. Still, there’s no glossing over the simple fact that a lack of profitability drove the site into the ground, where it had to be picked up by these new investors under yet-to-be-announced terms.

What went wrong?

Reliance on CDs. Although it was a social media site, one of Sellaband’s chief goals was to release compact discs, so they had to raise $50,000 or so from the crowd before releasing a record.

Expensive production. Investors had to come up with funding ranging from $30,000 to $250,000 because Sellaband aimed to make albums the major label way, hiring expensive producers rather than producing on the cheap, as most acts do these days.

Reliance on Albums. Instead of selecting a few key tracks for maximum impact, Sellaband used the traditional method of grouping songs into albums. The problem: Even if they have the talent, not every band has the stamina or depth to come up with 12 great, original tracks with wide or niche appeal.

Lack of specialization. Unless a site aspires to be the next iTunes, it helps to specialize in certain scenes, as music bloggers have discovered. Sellaband didn’t have every band on iTunes, but it did have bands of every style. Smaller record labels don’t generally work that way, and according to Betist, crowd-financed ones shouldn’t either.

Not enough promotion. It’s one thing to finance the production of an album, and quite another to sell enough CDs and downloads to turn a profit. Music promotion is a tricky business these days, but SellaBand spent too much money on hiring well-known producers, and not enough on promoting the results. Most of the bands apparently weren’t up to the task, either. In order for a band stand a chance, it needs luck and smart promotion, as well as plain quality. However, no online street team can overcome a lack of quality and appeal.

“Who let you in?” Too often, the idea of quality gets glossed over in discussions of the business side of music. Nobody wants to listen to music if it’s no good (key exceptions notwithstanding), regardless of how it’s distributed or financed. Admitting every band may have swelled the numbers of Sellaband artists into the thousands, but almost all of them failed to attract the requisite investment because potential believers didn’t find enough to believe in, after their first three clicks.

Betist embraced a more exclusive approach in his new venture, Africa Unsigned, which aims to solve the problems that affected Sellaband by releasing music from a specific niche genre. A panel of experts, including Damon Alburn from Blur, Senegalese singer and guitarist Baba Mal, and Fela Kuti drummer Tony Allen will help choose what’s released in a specific genre.

“I believe in that filter — and I didn’t [before], that’s one thing I didn’t know when I started Sellaband,” said Betist. “I learned along the way that the filter is necessary, because people want to be entertained.”

The real lesson here: While the crowd has great powers, and is as capable of collaborating to fund music as it is of solving other complex problems, not everyone in that crowd should be trusted with a guitar.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Grogger: A New Platform That Lets You Crowdsource Your Blog’s Content

Looking at blogs and news sites across the web, it’s clear that many have robust communities with eager, intelligent people looking to contribute. But up until recently, the only way most sites (particularly blogs) allow users to share their thoughts is through comments, which work well enough, but certainly aren’t always perfect. Grogger is a new service that looks to help sites tap into this community knowledge, allowing you to build a site that includes posts written by both you and your audience.

At its core, Grogger is an easy-to-use blogging platform, but rather than only exposing its editing tools to a handful of site administrators, they’re shown to everyone. When a user comes to your Grogger site and writes an entry (called a Grog), you can have it directly posted to your blog, or added to a moderation queue, where your site administrators can approve it. Once an entry has been approved, other users can vote it up using a ‘Like’ system, and administrators can ‘feature’ it to make it even more prominent. And while readers are free to contribute their own Grogs, they can also leave old-school comments under posts by other writers.

Grogger tracks each user’s profile over time, allowing you to quickly look up all of their previous posts. You can also elect to only follow certain writers if you want to tweak your reading experience (and Grogs can be broken up into categories). Frequent contributors are rewarded through a badge system. The site has only one theme available at this point, but more are coming in the near future, and you can manually edit the CSS if you want to get creative.

Grogger is still pretty early on (I ran into a few bugs, and some of the UI isn’t that intuitive), but it’s got potential. The site is now open to the public and is free, with plans to eventually roll out some premium options.
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How’s My Street? Crowdsourcing app lets you know

Blighted by the blizzard of 2010, Carnegie Mellon researchers hunkered down and created a crowdsourcing app for road conditions

As Mother Nature unleashed her fury on the Mid-Atlantic early this month, like most of the region’s residents, Carnegie Mellon University Professor Priya Narasimhan hunkered down for the duration. But cuddled up with a hot cup of cocoa and a good book, she wasn’t.

The quintessential social being, Narasimhan twittered away while she watched the snow pile up outside her Pittsburgh window. Monday evening, Feb. 8, as she read tweets from people who had braved the blizzard and were sharing information on passable and impassable roads, Narasimhan had an a-ha! moment.

“With Twitter, this information is shared only among friends and the people who are following each other, so it’s kind of an exclusive club from that viewpoint. It seemed like a natural extension to get people to share the information more publically,” says Narasimhan, who is an associate professor at in CMU’s Electrical & Computer Engineering Department and director of the university’s CyLab Mobility Research Center.

How's My Street?

So with crowdsourcing in mind, Narasimhan marshaled volunteers and set to work on a Google Maps-based application that would let anybody share road conditions. From their respective residences, Narasimhan, a fellow CMU faculty member, a PhD candidate and two undergraduate students holed up for the next 36 hours straight and cranked out a crowdsourcing site, How’s My Street? Like many a modern work team, they communicated via e-mail and Skype, Narasimhan says.
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Monday, February 22, 2010

Did crowdsourcing break the Toyota story?

None of this, though, can contend with the breakneck, crowdsourced, unmediated reputation-wrecker that is the 140 characters of a tweet. As the recall story exploded last week and I pondered the collapse of the vaunted Toyota Way, I checked the #Toyota Twitter tag frequently. The tweet-rate was blistering: Dozens of new tweets every 30 seconds. Give it half an hour and you had a thousand more. Even the most hardened PR warrior would have looked at that and wet his pants.
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The co-founder of, one of the world’s leading crowdfunding platforms, is the newest addition to the Feb. 26 Shift Worldwide virtual panel discussion “Crowdfunding: A New Resource for Entrepreneurs & Non-Profits?”
“Shift’s leadership in remote learning and our involvement in the crowdfunding community makes it a natural fit that we participate in the vPanel." Slava Rubin, Co-Founder

The co-founder of, one of the world’s leading crowdfunding platforms, is the newest addition to the Feb. 26 Shift Worldwide virtual panel discussion “Crowdfunding: A New Resource for Entrepreneurs & Non-Profits?”

Slava Rubin, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer for, Berkeley, Calif., will join four panelists for a live, interactive 90-minute discussion about crowdfunding. The Feb. 26 vPanel is intended for entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations seeking new funding opportunities.

“Crowdfunding opens new opportunities for startups, non-profits, and any creative entrepreneurs,” Rubin said. “Through IndieGoGo, we have seen hundreds of innovative and creative ideas come to life. Crowdfunding is an avenue that all types of entrepreneurs should explore.”

Shift Worldwide Founder and CEO Paul Trout said he’s excited that Rubin is a part of the crowdfunding vPanel. “Slava and his team at have provided the platform to assist innovative entrepreneurs, non-profits and artists in more than 90 countries to promote and seek funding for their projects,” Trout said. “ is clearly on the cutting edge of funding.”

Rubin said it was an easy decision to be part of Shift Worldwide’s vPanel. “With its virtual conference technology, Shift Worldwide is itself on the leading edge of e-learning,” Rubin said. “Shift’s leadership in remote learning and our involvement in the crowdfunding community makes it a natural fit that we participate in the virtual panel.”

In addition to Rubin, the vPanelists include:

* Nathan Beckord, CEO, Venture Archetypes, San Francisco
* Kamil Chmielewski, CIO,, Chicago
* Rick Goossen, CEO,, Vancouver, BC, Canada
* Jenny Kassan, Managing Director, Katovich Law Group, Oakland, Calif.

Shift Worldwide’s crowdfunding vPanel is Friday, Feb. 26, starting at 3 p.m. EST / noon PST. To learn more about the vPanelists and what will be discussed, see:

Shift Worldwide’s vPanel discussions provide rapid, actionable business intelligence for global business audiences. While attending vPanels, participants learn from and ask questions of the best business minds in their respective industries. vPanels are conducted live via web cam.

About IndieGoGo:
IndieGoGo is an internet crowdfunding platform - a new collaborative way to fund ideas and fuel innovation. Anyone can share their idea and raise funds by offering unique products, services, or experiences. Since launch in 2008, members from over 90 countries have successfully used IndieGoGo to make their ideas happen. The company is located in Berkeley CA and New York, NY. More information at

About Shift Worldwide:
Shift Worldwide produces and distributes original content for global business audiences and its clients in the form of virtual panel – or vPanel - discussions. It is a virtual company that is “headquartered” in Chicago, Illinois, USA, but on any given day, employees are free to work from any location worldwide.
More information is available at
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Friday, February 19, 2010 crowdsources portfolios for the first time...

Lazy Ad Students Crowdsource Their Books

Seriously? You go to ad school. You drop out (lazy? flunked? too expensive?) to finish your books on your own. When you can't, you ask the ad industry to crowdsource it for you. What happened to good old fashioned hard work? Oh right, laziness reigns supreme these days. Can't cut it on your own? Open it up to the internets and surely someone else will cover your ass by doing your work for you.

Why are Eric Stiles and Nick Larson doing this? To challenge the current portfolio school system, they claim. Granted, the schools aren't perfect but if you two want to succeed in this business, you might just want to do some of your own work. Oh wait, we're all a bunch of lazy-ass delegators in this business so you'll both fit in perfectly.
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Jelli jams radio with interactive programming

Music lovers who have always wanted to be radio DJs now have that opportunity.

Through a San Mateo startup named Jelli Inc., they get to be in charge of a station’s playlist for a period of time. Online, they give songs a thumbs up or a thumbs down and have a chance to get their favorite tune on the air.

The concept is similar to crowdsourcing Web sites such as Digg, in which the group as a whole — not editors — determines the site’s top news stories. In this case, the crowd plays the role of the DJ.

It’s a twist on traditional radio, one that may help radio stations draw and retain listeners.

Young listeners “have other places to listen to music and other things to do with media and entertainment,” said Sonal Gandhi, a media analyst with Forrester Research. “The radio is not the sole source of entertainment anymore, so radio stations are trying to figure out how to combat the decline. Jelli is one of the ways they can do that.”

In late 2009, Jelli raised about $2 million in angel funding from First Round Capital’s Josh Kopelman, Chief Financial Officer Alfred Lin and others. It plans to use the money to expand its service and work its way to profitability.
New format can target audience

Like a syndicated radio show, Jelli is paid through an advertising and licensing partnership with the station. Jelli has a deal with KITS-FM — Live 105 — a modern alternative rock station owned by CBS Radio Inc. It is also powering a segment for several Australian radio stations, and later this year it is set to broadcast in 4,500 stations across the United States through a partnership with Triton Radio Networks. Jelli also plans to extend itself by introducing a mobile service, such as iPhone and Android cell phone applications, which would allow listeners to participate on the go.

Despite competition from online music sites such as Pandora Media Inc. and new music technology such as iPods and iTunes, the broadcast radio industry still commands a robust $15 billion in advertising in the United States, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report. And each week, radio reaches 236 million listeners age 12 and older, according to Arbitron Inc.

Jelli can help, said its CEO Mike Dougherty, such as aiding advertisers by better targeting their audience.

Ultimately, Dougherty said he hopes Jelli can become more widespread.

“Our hope is that you can have a 24/7 Jelli experience,” he said.
A new radio experience

In the Bay Area, listeners can have the Jelli experience through Live 105. Monday through Friday from 8 p.m. to midnight, and Sunday from 10 p.m. to midnight, they’re in charge of what gets played on the air.

Through the Internet, Live 105 listeners can chat with other fans about their favorite tunes. There is also a constantly evolving playlist; the listeners can vote for or against each song, sending it up or down the list. Through “rockets” and “bombs,” they can also send a particular tune directly to the top or bottom of the playlist. A Live 105 DJ moderates, giving shout-outs to Jelli users, but doesn’t touch the playlist during the time slot.

Dougherty said that the Live 105 listeners are having fun being in control. In one instance, the song “Psycho Therapy” by the Ramones inspired listeners to select a block of songs with a psycho or crazy theme, leading to the station broadcasting tunes such as “Insane in the Brain” by Cypress Hill and “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne.

“We’ve seen really, really cool playlists generated by the hive mind,” Dougherty said. “There are a lot of people out there who know a lot about music. They’re having fun being DJs as a community.”

The experiment, which began last summer at Live 105, has been successful so far, said Aaron Axelsen, Live 105’s music director and assistant program director for on-air, enough so that what began as a one-night-a-week offering was extended to six nights a week earlier this year. The station already connects to its listeners through text messaging and other technology, but this is a fresh take on tapping into its young, core audience of 18 to 34-year-olds, he said.

“As a music director, you’d think I’d be petrified,” he said. “Is it going to take over my job? Is it going to make me obsolete? But I’m thrilled with the Jelli partnership.”

He continued, “It’s important for us to adapt to the times, and this is a perfect way to do so.”
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Sony Ericsson Dot: Crowdsourcing Mobile Ideas

Sony Ericsson has gone live with a new initiative called ‘SE-dot’. SE dot is aimed at crowdsourcing and developing new ideas. As the company informs us, the idea behind SE-dot is to jump the focus from technology and come down to practical ways in which mobiles can make things easy. On the site you would find ideas being put up, discussed and taken right upto prototype stage. Most of these ideas seem to be problems that developers can offer a solution to via a mobile app, but given the strength of community, Sony Ericsson can really get some good inputs from power users. Using collaboration between users Dot does better that other attempts that we have seen, like Palm asking you to give them ideas.

One cannot buy innovation but hope SE-dots sparks some good ideas though!

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Story of the Crowdsourced Spoon

MugStir is a spoon that hangs on a mug. Crowdsourcing. It’s so hot right now. Case in point, this crowdsourced spoon. It’s called the MugStir and you can pre-order three for $7.50. Developed by the Quirky community, it’s the 28th product from the crowdsourcing site.

The main idea is “to replace those nasty communal spoons, or to avoid wasting a new plastic spoon every time you need to stir a beverage.” If you’ve ever worked for a medium- to large-sized company, you’ve probably had a run-in with the communal spoon drawer.

The spoon itself features a rubber coated handle to prevent burns and is contorted to hang on your favorite coffee mug. Pre-order three for $7.50 or pay $12.99 later.

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Is 'crowdfunding' really the way ahead for author advances?

Using the wisdom of the crowd to research a book is nothing new. Clay Shirky based a whole tome around the concept. But using the wealth of the crowd to fund your book? For no return? That's a new one.

It's the unusual approach taken by Deanna Zandt, an American "media technologist and consultant to key progressive media organisations". Last summer she issued a plea on her blog for donations to support her while she spent three months writing a book about social networking as a tool for social change and action, looking specifically at communities she says have too often been marginalised as social networks have developed: "women, people of color, queer folk, and more".

Zandt has a publisher for this book, Berret Koehler, but they do not provide authors with advances to write their books. For some (unexplained, especially as the book is due to be published in June 2010) reason the book is "incredibly fast-tracked" and so she needed
"to stop working as a consultant for the next three months and do nothing but write the book. Thus, I need investors. I need you to help me raise $15,000 to cover my expenses, travel, and research. Please toss some money into a 'Feed Deanna' pot!"

Surprisingly, perhaps, Zandt had reasonable success with her call out for "investors" (although there is no payoff for donors other than a copy of the book for those who donate more than $100. And a nice warm feeling inside, of course). She raised more than $6,500, somebody covered her rent, and a pizza company provided free snacks.

I'm not sure Zandt helps her case by writing in the "about me" section on her blog that "alas, I was not meant for the world of 'getting up' at the 'same time' every day". Zandt, that's how most writers get their work done early in their careers – by fitting it before or after or somehow around a day job.

Zandt, however, argues that "I disagree that sacrifice is the only way to produce good work, and I feel like this is a perverse theme in western culture that hurts artists and creative folk more than it helps them. Suffering does not, contrary to popular belief, produce sustainable, good creativity. Joy does."

Does she have a point? The debate kicked off again over the weekend on Twitter when the Ballardian's Simon Sellars raised Zandt's example with author (and Guardian reviewer) PD Smith and science fiction author and anime/manga blogger Tim Maughan. The response was sceptical, to say the least.
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Monday, February 15, 2010

House lottery funds to fight poverty

Mr Rabeder decided to raffle his Alpine home, selling 21,999 lottery tickets priced at just £87 each. The Provence house in the village of Cruis is on sale at the local estate agent.

All the money will go into his microcredit charity, which offers small loans to Latin America and builds development aid strategies to self-employed people in El Salvador, Honduras, Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and Chile.
Karl Rabeder who was born in Linz graduated in the combinated subjects of mathematics physics and chemistry at the College of education in Linz in 1984.

Some years later he founded a company engaged in handy-craft art.

As a passionate glider he was Austria’s state champion many times by doing so he participated at the World- and European Championship. In addition he is the trainer of Austria’s junior glider team.

Since we sold our company in 2004 we supported several orphanage projects in Central and South America. Out of it the greenhouse project arose about a year ago. With the greenhouse project orphanage school leavers have the possibility to acquire an additional education in agriculture and to raise a micro-credit in order to run their own business as vegetable farmers.

We will use the proceeds of the house lottery to co-finance the MicroCredit Organisation.
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Crowdfunding becomes a reality for start-ups...

"everyone funding startups" - Grow VC's new community funding model is launched

15th of February 2010 - Hong Kong - Grow VC today launched its one long-awaited core business model, a community funding model. Under this model Grow VC will pool 75 per cent of membership fees into a community fund that gets invested back into promising member startups. Community fund investments are managed by Grow VC, but all investment decisions are made by Grow VC members who determine how to invest their portion of the fund to other startup companies that they feel have the most potential.

Grow VC is fixing the inefficiencies of private seed funding for web and mobile companies with a global social network and crowdfunding. The service includes the tools needed for building a startup from the ground up, to getting funding at the seed level. It introduces startups to investors, experts and other entrepreneurs, helping them discover common interests and providing new transparent ways of achieving investment.

The community-fund feature includes a members leaderboard based on the merit of the members' investment decisions. The most successful decision makers will be financially rewarded when the community fund begins earning return on investment (ROI). All decisions are completely transparent so Grow VC members can always view how successful past and ongoing investments are.

Grow VC cofounder and CEO Valto Loikkanen said: "Our model gets startups acquainted with the entire investment process and we are the first to offer this type of peer-to-peer crowdfunding. For our service to have a sustainable future, the cost structure must be kept low and our own interests must clearly align with our members' interests - so that our success is dependent on the success of other startups, investors and experts in our community."

Grow VC cofounder and chairman Jouko Ahvenainen said: "Early phase funding requires new solutions. VC's are moving their focus to more mature companies, and LP's are decreasing investments in VC funds. Entrepreneurs want to have more competition and transparency in the funding market, and business angels require better tools to find good startups and for easier dealmaking. This new model opens totally new opportunities in funding, and it also offers practical help like transparent term sheets and investment agreements."

More about the community funding model The model encourages entrepreneurs to start looking at other startups from an investors' point of view, helping them to improve their own profile and communication. Through their funding process in Grow VC, startups can also build a global, multilingual and geographically distributed network of industry peers of Grow VC members, motivated to support their venture.

For early stage investors, or "funders", the information that the community decisions provide about noteworthy startups brings a level of transparency not seen before in investing in tech, web and mobile startups.

The patent-pending community fund model is the original core innovation in Grow VC's arsenal of unique funding models and the reason behind Grow VC's inception. In 2009 the company was also the first to announce a global service-investment model, whereby service providers in the industry can invest in companies using work resources as "sweat equity," in addition to money.

Joining Grow VC, and the basic features such as building a person profile, are free. Premium features including the services above come with subscriptions ranging from $20 to $140 per month, depending on how much money the startup company is seeking or how much the investor is looking to invest. For unlimited service investments, the monthly subscription fee is $90 per month.

Following its first five months in public beta, Grow VC's community just reached 700 registered users from within the startup and investment communities.

About Grow VC
Grow VC is Venture Capital 2.0, bringing the first truly transparent, international, community-based approach to early stage funding. Grow VC can help mobile and web 2.0 startup stars secure initial funding for their businesses ranging from $10,000 to $1m USD. Grow VC will not only connect startup entrepreneurs with 'funders' (investors) to help them discover their common interests, but also provide tools for the process and new transparent ways of doing things. Grow VC international headquarters is located in Hong Kong.
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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pirate Bay boss to make the web pay

One of the founders of the Pirate Bay is kicking off a venture that aims to help websites generate cash. Called Flattr, the micropayments system revolves around members paying a fixed monthly fee. At the end of each month that cash will be divided among participating sites a Flattr member wants to reward. Members might want to reward a band that made a track they liked, the author of a story they enjoyed or a site that gave useful advice. Participating sites will sport a Flattr button in the same way that many have clickable icons that let visitors send information to friends or refer something they find interesting to sites such as Digg and Redditt.

"The money you pay each month will be spread evenly among the buttons you click in a month," said Mr Sunde.

"We want to encourage people to share money as well as content," Mr Sunde told the BBC. "It's a test to see if this might be a working method for real micropayments."

The minimum Flattr wants people to pay each month is 2 euros (£1.73) but members can pay more if they want to.

"That way you have control over your monthly spending on content, and you can rather help many people than just a few," he said.

Many micropayment systems had not proved popular, he said, because they were too cumbersome to use regularly.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Twitter Crowdsourcing How to

Crowd by Victoria Peckham.

Welcome back to the weekly Twitter column. Ever since I’m on Twitter I’ve tried to get as many people to participate spontaneously in writing my posts or rather compiling my lists. I always seek contributions for my “30 something” flagship posts. The appropriate term for these kind of participation is crowdsourcing.

Many people contribute to one cause or piece of content. It’s as simple as that but it’s not simple as all. Even using such a simple tool like Twitter which seems to be perfectly suited for the quick crowdsourcing project without further ado crowdsourcing requires a certain kind of magic.

How do you motivate people you often barely know to participate in writing a blog post?

You could argue that in the SEO industry it shouldn’t be that difficult as everybody seeks publicity, attention and links here. Surprisingly the drive for attention seems not to be enough. People are busy as most SEO professionals have tight schedules. So only from time to time you can get a response that deserves to be called “crowdsourcing”. After all there is no crowdsourcing without a crowd. Two or three tweets are not enough to speak of crowdsourcing if you ask me.

My recent SEO FAQ post was quite successful at enticing a response.

Many people have contributed. Some of them haven’t conversed with me much in the past. So the motivation must have been beyond “I like him, so let’s help him”.

Before I tell you how to use Twitter for crowdsourcing I want to clarify why we should do it.

* Why bother?
* Do we need crowdsourced posts at all?
* Why use Twitter for that purpose?

Crowdsourcing is not only fun and strengthens your social ties it makes sense in order to promote your work. People care much more for a post they’ve contributed to than a random post by someone else. Also the attention span on Twitter is minuscule. normally a few minutes after you tweet your new post it vanishes already from people’s timelines. In contrast you can inform your contributors about the post being published directly addressing them. On Twitter with an @mention.

You could argue that Twitter is not the best medium to crowdsource in the first place due to its “only 15 minutes of fame” nature, crowdsourcing should be done via email and more advanced tools instead. That’s true to some extent but it takes much longer and much more effort to crowdsource without Twitter. So at the end of the day you have to decide whether you want to spend hours or days on a post. Twitter allows you to crowdsource both much faster and in a less time consuming manner.

OK, so how did I inspire my followers this time to contribute? Why didn’t they do it each time in the past just for the sake of the links and mentions?

There many a few reasons for the recent “change of mind”. You have to:

find a common cause
Just creating another SEO FAQ isn’t really interesting for most people in the industry. It’s a rather boring task. Also I wasn’t eager to write another SEO FAQ. Accidentally I’ve noticed a SEO bashing post that ranks for SEO FAQ and that motivated me, the others and even Danny Sullivan before us to debunk it and to outrank it. We’ve seen plenty of SEO bashing in the recent years and most SEO practicioners can’t do very much about it. Almost everybody gets annoyed or even downright angry by those ignorant SEO bashings but you can’t counter them by writing replies as you only add to the publicity the fake pundits seek. So most people ignore it while others add attention to the SEO bashing link baits in order not to ignore it. Here we have the option to fight that crap without actually giving it more attention than it deserves outside the industry.
The goal is to outrank the fake SEO FAQ and to spread the basic SEO wisdom via Google and other channels.

ask a broad question
I often ask questions on Twitter. Ofter there are too specific or to research intensive. This time I asked people to provide tidbits from their daily practice that they remember out of the top of the head. They didn’t have to search for answers or to peruse their bookmarks. They just had to remember their own experiences and to add them. It was more like a brainstorming.

add some humor
A common and justifies reaction to SEO bashings is being at least irritated. While at the same time the people who spread the lies and misconceptions about our industry are not worth it. They will never get it. They don’t want to. We have to win over the people who they reach. These people are often wary of SEO just for the boring theory of it. SEO is hard work and it has no glamor like web design or even a subculture web development and programming aka geekiness. Humor is the perfect ingredient for the otherwise boring SEO topic. With humor you can overcome some of these barriers and make people otherwise oblivious of the topic listen. We had a lot of fun compiling the SEO FAQ questions and answers because most of them were in a way humorous by themselves. The informal way we communicate on Twitter made it easy to be laid back about these Q&A.

strike a cord
Probably one of the main reason for the latest crowdsourcing success was that I was able to strike a chord. Most SEO practicioners are suject to very common, almost annoying questions. Some questions get asked with an astounding frequency and lack of understanding of SEO. this way the humor and common cause of the topic got bundled be the common experience of getting asked the same questions over and over and having the explain the same issues each time anew. Thus some questions are almost running gags by themselves.

give before you take and then give again
I’ve promised links for contributions for at least 12 months by now. This time I did again. While it was not a reason by itself some people contributed also to get a link. There’s nothing wrong with some healthy selfishness. Then I offered even more. I shared the content. This time I offered other bloggers, SEOs and publishers to take half of the list, the questions to be exact and to republish those providing their own answers. While giving away content is quite popular these days due to the Creative Commons alternative copyright movement it’s rare in the SEO industry due to duplicate content issues. We have overcome that just by sharing the questions and no all of it. This way all of the republishers actually remix the post. They have an original afterwards and Google doesn’t filter the newer posts for duplicate content.
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WPP's Sir Martin Sorrell comments on crowdsourced ads

GHARIB: I'd like to get your take on these do it yourself ads.Because we saw during the Super Bowl that some of them were very effective. Do you see this as a threat or an opportunity?

SORRELL: An opportunity. User-generated content is a fact of this new medium and we all have to get used to it. What you have to do is use it to advantage. I mean you have to take these examples -- I mean, these ideas -- and try and develop them in the context of client strategies and execution, development in an effective and sophisticated way. I don't think it's a threat. I think it's an opportunity.
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Crowd-Sourcing: A Fancy Name for Micro-Advertising, Still the Same Thing

In November of last year we put together a list of all the crowd-sourcing shops we could find. We missed some, like GuidedByVoices, aka, GuidedCollective, which has made an English-voice-overed-so-you'll-think-they're-smart video (after jump) explaining how they do. But come on, let's call crowd-sourcing what it is — the micro-advertising model.

Like most crowd-sorcery, GuidedByVoices relies on a bunch of people putting ideas into a box and then the shop picks which is the best and then they pay everyone who has good ideas. In a run-of-the-mill shop, this is the part where the agency puts out the RFP to a few digital agencies (if they don't happen to do digital), then after competing for weeks and spending a few grand, some never-before-mentioned shop wins the work and everyone gets screwed. Crowd-sourcing is a bit more accountable here, and since it's more one-to-one, our gut is that the best person is more likely to win.

But still, a lot of players enter the race, only one can win.

Crowd-sourcing attempts to make each "good sumbitter's" time worthwhile — paying the best ones an equal sum at every step. At the end, the winner gets another, larger payment and maybe the other players get an additional check too. Depends on the shop. But if five people get paid, hundreds more (potentially thousands) get nothing. It is what it is. This is how it's done in many crowd-sourcing shops. But when you're a peon working at the small digital shop, you get a check regardless. Not that you should, but hell, every idea can't be a seller (let's note here that work good work and work that sells are not always equal).

So crowd-sourcing agencies have like, zero overhead. Big deal. All that means is that a few key players take home a wad of cash for essentially farming out the work — which is exactly how it's done inside normal shops. And then the people who do the work get either a few lumps of highly taxed cash or nothing at all.

For the client using crowd-sourcing, the benefit is "ideation" from a broader group of participants. But that doesn't mean the people behind those ideas will work well together. Half of the agency-model battle is putting together a team that won't kill one another.

And when you have a team of freelancers in different time zones, with individual processes and styles — making it all come together is still a bigger, scarier challenge.

We've only scratched the surface here, but the takeaway is the crowd-sourcing model doesn't appear any more effective than the standard agency. There are pros and cons to both. It certainly isn't an alternative, really — it's a lower-overhead model that pays out only to the best ideas. In that way it's a bit cannibalistic; competitive in a way that wouldn't sustain an entire industry. It also prevents freelancers from making whatever the agency gets off the top, and assumes that the agency principals are really good advertisers. But hell, with a good enough salesman and a couple former Big Agency creatives, you too could start your crowd-sourcing agency. Call it Ideas'R'Us and make a million bucks.

My advice is if you can make money, do it however you can — but only if your mother would be proud of how you did it. I should probably get a new gig.
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Crowdsource Problem-Solving Platform hypios Ties $50,000 Promotion to Valentine's Day

Los Angeles - No Plans for Valentine’s Day? Learn to Love Problems, Says hypios

Los Angeles and Paris — On February 14th, online problem-solving platform launches its first annual “A Problem to Love” promotion. hypios will pay a total of $50,000 to solvers of two of the world’s most compelling problems, as determined by visitors to the site.

Teleportation? A cure for cancer? Maybe, maybe not. Candidate problems must be submitted by an employee of some form of research organization—any discipline, public or private. hypios envisions that the two “Problems to Love” will be perennially frustrating research and development (R&D) puzzles. Current unsolved problems on hypios range from the mundane (how to make biodegradable, nonpolluting batteries) to the abstract (a model for frame-dragging that is consistent with Einstein’s general theory of relativity — the details of which will not be explained here).

The two top problems will be judged on structure and promise of impact, then posted on hypios for a prize totaling $50,000, giving each problem a fair chance to find a solution. One, chosen by a jury, will be worth $30,000 to the Solver; the other, selected by the public, wins the Solver $20,000 — both paid for by hypios.

The persons that posted the problems receive all intellectual property rights to Solvers’ solutions, once accepted.

“We put our heads together to consider what the ideal gift would be to problem-solvers for Valentine’s Day. And then it hit us: what about two fewer problems in the world?” posed Oussama Ammar, founder and president of hypios. “‘A Problem to Love’ embodies every problem’s quest for the perfect solution.”

“Research is a social — even intimate — activity, one that should feel engaging rather than solitary and frustrating. For people who’d rather resolve, not struggle with, research problems, this is a more heartfelt gift than flowers and chocolates,” added Klaus-Peter Speidel, co-founder and vp communications.

hypios hopes the competition will motivate people to share knowledge while discovering the advantage its website offers to researchers, engineers and scientists: that of uniting problems to a custom-tailored solution, which may, like love, come from an unexpected place.

Submissions and votes are welcome starting Febuary 14th. The winners will be announced on April 14th. uses intelligent crowdsourcing to help enterprises solve R&D problems. “Solvers” on its platform, representing diverse disciplines and industries, hail from over 120 countries. “Seekers” can post R&D problems for the network and select a deadline and a price for the Solver. hypios is only paid when solutions are found.
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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Crowdsourcing for social service

Last week I blogged about crowdsourcing. Maybe some blog readers have heard ads for an initiative Pepsi is sponsoring called the PepsiRefresh Project. Making use of the Internet-age double meaning of the word "refresh" -- both for the kind of refreshment Pepsi hopes to provide thirsty people and the "refresh" command on the Internet suggesting renewal and starting over -- Pepsi is pledging to provide $1.3 million a month in grants (provided in sums of $5K, $25K, $50K, and $250K) to self-nominated social service ideas for making a better world that get the most votes from people visiting the project website.

I first came across this approach about a year ago, when the National Trust for Historic Preservation developed a list of about 15 or so historic renovation projects for sites in the Boston area, invited the public to vote via a website for their top priority, and pledged to provide a grant to the winning project. (I am assuming Boston wasn't the only city where this was done.)

I checked out the PepsiRefresh website, and actually voted for an idea. (You need to register in order to vote, which takes about two minutes.) For February, there are about 800 ideas that have been nominated in different categories (such as health, arts and culture and neighborhoods).

Some come from very established organizations, such as Teach for America and the American Legion (who in effect are asking for grants from Pepsi for their existing programs). But others are local grassroots initiatives coming from individuals or small groups, such as the Quad Cities Animal Welfare Center (in Iowa), which is seeking $5,000 to get volunteers to help elderly people take care of their pets -- this is the one I voted for! -- and a schoolteacher seeking $250,000 for an initiative to keep kids out of gangs in Kokomo, Indiana.

The site is quite easy to navigate, and tells visitors what the most-popular ideas are in different categories, as well as linking to lower-ranked ideas in similar areas to encourage visitors to click around.

It's a fascinating example of crowdsourcing. Obviously, it provides a low-cost way to learn what "the crowd" thinks. But it has another virtue as well. It provides a way to educate and inspire the people who visit the site about public service initiatives. Maybe it can give people ideas about specific projects they might want to try themselves. More generally -- with the help of Pepsi's campaign to publicize the initiative -- it can help develop buzz, especially among young people, about service.

It is hard to imagine this approach being applied directly in government, as a way to determine, at a micro level, priorities for spending taxpayer funds. Among other things, worries about organized voting campaigns (of the sort Jonathan Zittrain was worried about in the Kennedy School presentation that I discussed in the blog last week) would prohibit this method from determining priorities for spending money. But clearly there must be ways for federal agencies to use this approach in order to gather information as part of a decision-making process, as well as to educate citizens about real-life prioritizations that agencies need to deal with all the time. One could imagine the National Park Service explaining various competing maintenance or other projects, and soliciting public feedback. One might even do like Pepsi, and ask visitors at each park to nominate ideas for park improvements, of which the most-promising could be costed out and then voted on.
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Interstellar Marines crowdsourced funding not what it seems

Interstellar Marines hopes to buck the trend of small-scale independent games created on shoestring budgets. The title has been worked on by a dedicated team for a number of years and relies on a unique business plan: community members who are willing to pre-order the game fund development. The real story, however, may not be that simple.

A Danish journalist contacted Ars Technica to point out that Zero Point Software's financial history isn't as solid as it leads the public to believe, and the company's previous incarnation was shut down after declaring bankruptcy. Did we have the wool pulled over our eyes? The answer isn't a simple one, and those who chose to preorder need to know what they're getting into.
Before crowd-funding was an option

While community support is clearly a big part of the developer's funding plan—if for no other reason than it helps generate word-of-mouth buzz—it turns out that the company enjoyed significant support that wasn't community-based. Gert Haar-Jørgensen, one of the co-founders of Zero Point Software, largely carried the game's funding needs for over five years. According to his testimony on the Interstellar Marines forums, "the investors up til now are over 90 percent (amount and value) founders and their family and friends (some of the 500 fans on facebook) and the story of our on-going battle to realize the [Interstellar Marines] dream is well-described in the [For The Love Of The Game] video (there are a few additions in the pipeline)."

The indie developer began suffering financial difficulties last year. According to Haar-Jørgensen, his support financed roughly 80 percent of the game's development; he drew the available funds from the income of his other business, Lean Coaching. Due to the flailing economy, he lost a significant amount of business, leaving him unable to continue financing the game. The studio was shut down, and the Zero Point Software name, Interstellar Marines content, and intellectual property reverted back to a holding company while founders and board members tried to figure out what what to do next.
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ebay to crowd source search

Ebay to use crowd sourcing to test new features, starting with streamlined search

It’s always difficult for any big site to test and roll out new features. Many companies just test internally until they determine they have something good enough to roll out. But a growing trend is to let your users do the work for you. Google, for example, uses its Labs to publicly test new ideas — some of which are later implemented in Google services, while others just fall by the wayside.

Now, according to the NYT’s Bits Blog, eBay is aiming to do the same by creating a new location on its site to feature blossoming ideas: the Garden by eBay.

At the Garden, users can choose to test out new features that integrate into their typical eBay experience by opting-in, or choose to try out stand-alone features like the new Diamond Ring Designer. Users can also rate and review the new tools, which will be continually updated. Instead of using the typical “beta” terminology used in software testing, eBay divides its budding features into “Seeds” and “Plants.”

The first “seed” feature is a streamlined eBay search interface...

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CrowdSPRING, an online marketplace where companies get freelance designers from around the world to bid on projects, is expanding into promotional copy. You too could have designed that poster for Judas Priest.

Nestled in a second-floor warehouse space amid meatpacking plants and feet from an elevated train track in Chicago's gritty West Loop, an entrepreneurial company that built its business on creating a novel way for businesses to design materials is launching a new initiative—competitive bidding for promotional copy writing.

What the company, crowdSPRING LLC, is attempting to do is akin to creating an eBay for creative work. The firm bills itself as an online marketplace for graphic and industrial designs. When Barilla needed a new pasta shape and LG needed a phone design, they went to crowdSPRING. And the company has helped hundreds of small businesses buy professional designs, in many cases for hundreds instead of thousands of dollars.

This week, the three-year-old company expands into copy writing. To find artists and writers, companies simply post their jobs at and wait for creative types from around the world to respond. Businesses offer awards anywhere from $100 to tens of thousands for top entries (a 15 percent commission is paid to crowdSPRING).
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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Is the next Hollywood studio?

The biracy project™ is a social experiment in crowdfunded filmmaking. The project is the pilot program built on the new social utility platform SoKap by the folks at Binoir Media, Inc. SoKap will be made available for qualified producers of digital media to allow them to crowdfund, crowdsource and define their audience while incurring no debt in the creative process. You can preregister as a producer at

Binoir Media is based in Vancouver, Canada and has associates in Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, and Calgary.

Binoir Media specializes in building innovative funding models for projects within the digital media realm.
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Kevin Smith May Try Crowdfunding Horror Film, Red State, After Fans Offer To Do So

We've already pointed out how director/writer/filmmaker/entertainer Kevin Smith is a great example of a filmmaker embracing the model of connecting with fans and giving them a reason to buy, even to the point of saying that unauthorized file sharing is just a way to get more fans he can "convert." Apparently, he may take things to another level, by following a crowdfunding effort similar to what we've seen with some musicians and authors.

The twist here is that it wasn't his idea. The fans came to him and made it clear they wanted to fund the project. If you are a fan of Smith (as I am), you know he's been talking about various projects he's been thinking about, and last year talked a lot about a rather different kind of movie, a "political horror film" called Red State. Of course, that's definitely a big step away from Smith's usual comic-fare, and finding financing for it was initially proving difficult. But, the fans stepped up:

"I think an interesting thing that may happen with it is--I was on Twitter and people are asking about Red State, and then a dude tweeted 'hey man, what if we pay for it?' And all of a sudden, a bunch of people were like 'Seriously, why not?'"

Smith has said that if he does this, he'd match every dollar donated. They're working on a website for it, but there have been some logistical issues:

"We're kind of creating this website. We're seeing if it works to set up and collect donations. It becomes a weird tax nightmare, though... It sounded like such an easy thing online... but now there's lots of checks and balances to make sure we can do it, but if that's the case, I would be into it, and I'll match it. Whatever you raise on line, like fuck it, you put it up, I'll put it up."

Of course, doing it from scratch may raise some issues, and I'd imagine he'd be better off if he weren't trying to sell "shares" in the film, since that's where things get really tricky, but focusing on selling something else (credit in the film, access to screenings, meet & greet with Kevin, etc.), with the proceeds going to fund the film. But there are lots of platforms like Kickstarter or Biracy that he might want to look into, since they've worked out a lot of the legal issues.

Still, it highlights, yet again, what a lie it is to claim that "fans just want everything for free." And it shows that content not yet created is a scarcity people will pay for. It's still early (and Smith is focused on another movie first), but it could be one of the most high profile movies made using this technique.

But the further this moves along, the more interesting it gets. After a bunch of people misinterpreted the original interview Smith gave, he wrote out a more detailed explanation of his thinking, which is clearly still in the very initial planning stage (i.e., they don't even know if it's possible), but it looks to be about more than just fan funding this one film:
Our plan is to put anything we make into a fund that would, in turn, finance other (cost-sensible) flicks fans want to see. And from that? Build a People's Studio. Simply have any interested/frustrated/desperate party put their script on our website, open for all to read, during a "pilot season" of sorts. Script that gets the most votes, gets the loot. That flick gets made and sold, all the loot goes back into fund for next round. If there's enough loot from RED STATE sale to do so, idea would be to fund two low budget flicks a year. Ultimate dream: Indie Movement, v.3.

Even though a lot of the talk around these parts has been about music industry business models, in the last year or so, I've really been amazed at the number of indie filmmakers who have been really digging in on new business models, with a strong willingness to experiment and adapt. It's very encouraging to see.

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Crowdsourcing Comics

"And crowdsourcing to get ideas for developing new comics?

The crowdsourcing idea is powerful, we have extended it to talk with various people who want to publish comics. We also have a contest on Tinkle inviting ideas."

Part 1: ACK Media CEO Samir Patil On Challenges, New Media, Gaming, Facebook & More

ACK Media, the owner of Indian comic content such as Amar Chitra Katha, Tinkle and Karadi Tales, has a slew of projects lined up for the year: online games (one called Suppandi World), two animation movies, a Facebook application for Amar Chitra Katha Story Of the Week, and mobile games for the Android. ACK Media CEO and co-founder Samir Patil, in the first half of a two-part interview with MediaNama, talks about the various segments, challenges and why he feels the promise of new media has not worked.
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Listening To AllVoices

Can citizen media mogul Amra Tareen remake journalism and make money? At least she thinks so. If reading the news at feels familiar, here's why: Its content is rated like Digg; its citizen reporting is aggregated like Google News; its publishing platform resembles CNN's iReports. All this helps AllVoices pull off a crowdsourcing coup. With a staff of 10 operating from modest office space in downtown San Francisco, it oversees 300,000 registered contributors whose content draws 4.6 million unique visitors a month. Users from around the world post stories, videos and images, filing from laptops and cell phones--"unedited by humans" says the site.

One human involved is founder Amra Tareen, a former telecom engineer who grew up in Pakistan and Australia, earned a Harvard M.B.A., then joined venture capital outfit Sevin Rosen Funds, where she became a partner. After drawing up a business plan for AllVoices in her living room, she left Sevin Rosen and launched the site in early 2008. Tareen spoke with Forbes in early February.

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Crowd Source Capital purchases .com

"Crowd Source Capital Limited (UK) has purchased the USA domain for an undisclosed sum and now has a footprint in the United States as well as Europe. Its directors believe in crowd sourcing as a 2010 trend and beyond. It can only trend upwards and as social media proliferates, crowd sourcing and crowd funding will be accepted in more and more traditional financial sectors says James de Rin a USA consultant for C.S.C. United Kingdom.
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Pentagon to crowdsource Intel

Darpa’s New Plans: Crowdsource Intel, Edit DNA

The Pentagon’s mad science agency has big plans for next year: crowdsourcing military intelligence, creating an “immune system” for Defense Department networks, and even research that might one day lead to editing a soldier’s DNA.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, just released its budget for the upcoming year. And, as you might expect from the Pentagon’s way-out science and technology division, there are some wild new projects on tap.

Military analysts are already overwhelmed by too much information. Instead of training more analysts or handing data over to computers, Darpa wants to improve how the military uses its intelligence info by turning it into an open call for contribution. The $13 million dollar project, called “Deep ISR Processing by Crowds,” looks “to harness the unique cognitive and creative abilities of large numbers of people to enhance dramatically the knowledge derived from ISR systems.”

Crowdsourcing is already used among businesses and other government agencies, to generate more innovative ideas that draw on as many sources as possible. Darpa wants that innovation to take over individual analysis and decision-making:

Novel frameworks will be developed to capture the experience base of users and systems to allow problem partitioning, quantitative confidence assessment, and validation in environments that may be partially compromised by adversaries.

When it comes to cybersecurity, Darpa’s taking inspiration from nature, with “Cyber Immune” — a defense model for the Pentagon’s computing systems that’s able to detect an attack, fight back and even heal itself automatically to prevent subsequent infiltration.

The current model for cybersecurity, dubbed “perimeter defense,” uses firewalls that hackers try to break through. Once they make it inside, they’ve got free rein, and the compromised system is vulnerable to ongoing outside attacks until the firewall is rebuilt. Instead of technicians who patch holes as they find them, Darpa wants a system with the instincts to go it alone, and that “assume[s] security cannot be absolute, yet … can still defend itself in order to maintain its (possibly degraded) capabilities, and possibly even heal itself.”

Of course, Darpa’s also living up to its mad-science rep, with ambitious plans to fast-track mastery over the human genome. Darpa’s budgeted $7.5 million in hopes of “increas[ing] by several decades the speed with which we sequence, analyze and functionally edit cellular genomes.”

Editing DNA could have widespread implications, but Darpa seems most interested in two: microchip implants that restore senses and movement in traumatic injury patients, and the ongoing Darpa goal of boosting troop performance in the field:

On the other end of the size scale, a primary goal is to apply microsystem techniques to soldier-protective biomedical systems. One example is an in-canal hearing protection device that will provide enhanced hearing capabilities in some settings, but be able to instantly muffle loud sounds of weapons fire. This one example will improve inter-personnel communications and at the same time drastically reduce the incidence of hearing loss in combat situations. For these examples and many more, the goal is to bring exceptionally potent technical approaches to bear on biological and biomedical applications where their capabilities will be significant force multipliers for the DoD.

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Super Bowl Shuffle: Why Marketers Will Shift to 'Platforms

Brands That Continually Throw to Consumers Will Win Come Monday Morning and Beyond
The teams playing in this year's Super Bowl have already been decided, but the Super Bowl shuffle for advertisers began in earnest last month when marketing mainstays like FedEx, General Motors and Pepsi made news by announcing they were opting out of this year's ad extravaganza.

But for those looking to gauge the health of the ad industry, Super Bowl advertising is a bit of red herring. CBS is charging about $2.5 million for 30 seconds of commercial time -- and rightly so. Rarely do you get so many Americans watching one event and actually enjoying the advertising. It's a tremendous opportunity for most brand marketers and we'd be foolish to look at this year's Super Bowl as proof of either the rejuvenation of the 30-second spot or the rejection of it.

That doesn't mean some won't try. After all, last year Hulu saw a 50% increase in site traffic after running ads during the Super Bowl and Denny's traffic to its website soared nearly 1,700% as consumers sought information about its free breakfast promotion.

There certainly will be advertising winners (and losers) on Super Bowl Sunday but let's hope that the Monday morning quarterback chatter doesn't obscure the larger shift at hand for marketers this year. 2010 will be the year of the "platform" for advertisers.

Unlike a website, banner, Facebook application or 30-second spot, a platform is an always-on digital environment that allows brands to run specific or multiple programs. The goal is to meaningfully engage consumers on multiple levels. For some brands, that means creating an immersive experience with integrated commerce. For others, it means enabling consumers to connect with each other in valuable, unexpected ways.

But for marketers, the real winners this year will be the brands who have built these platforms to engage consumers well after this year's Super Bowl becomes a distant memory -- there are another 364 days to worry about after all. Here's a look at some of the more interesting platforms in play today:

Pepsi's Refresh Everything Community Action Platforms: Perhaps the biggest, and most noteworthy, push into this space comes from PepsiCo, which opted to sit out the Super Bowl to tout it's cause-marketing program Refresh Everything. The platform, which is inspired by crowdsourced ventures like Kickstarter, enables Pepsi to award grant money to consumers who suggest various ideas and iniatives for their communities. The effort is akin to other cause-marketing efforts like Procter & Gamble's Tide: Loads of Hope, where consumers purchase T-shirts, among other things, to fund Tide's effort to help families stricken by disaster with basic laundry services.

Crowdsourcing Platforms: While not exactly new, enough brands are finding success using crowdsourcing platforms to generate insight and drive deeper consumer participation that we will surely see more this year. Starbuck's is clearly the outsized success here with tens of thousands of ideas collected and a vibrant community. Dell's Idea Storm falls into this category, as does Lego's Mindstorm. The most recent entrant is Best Buy's Ideax, which shares similar elements of the category but goes somewhat further by allowing users to search/browse by ideas generated "Nearby." The community here is both virtual and local.
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Video Game Tries Tiered Crowdfunding Model

These days, doing "crowdfunding" of music has become so commonplace that it's hardly worth mentioning any more, but it's still a bit new in other content realms. Reader Pat points us to the news that a new video game, Grim Dawn, is trying to fund itself with this kind of model. The game is a "spiritual successor" to Titan Quest, and has three tiers of support from $20 to $48. Basically, the more you pay, the earlier access you get to the game (alpha or beta stage). I'd be curious to see how well it works, but I'm not sure it really offers that much excitement. I could see big fans of the game really wanting to get in on the alpha, but I wonder if it's enough to really fund the game.
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Crowd Source Capital Enters Top ten crowdsourcing twitters on

Crowd Source Capital enters the top ten crowdsourcing twitters for the first time with 1269 followers.

#1 Jeff Howe Crowdsourcing Jeff Howe is a writer at Wired Magazine and a Nieman Fellow at Harvard U...4,468 followers

#2 dexin Interested in Entrepreneurship, Crowdsourcing, Cloud Computing and Macro...19,597 followers

#3 Jason Spector A crowdsourcing and creative consultant standing at the crossroads of us...1,840 followers

#4 BBH Labs Marketing Skunkworks: new models for marketing, new models for creative...11,866 followers

#5 john winsor On the Victors & Spoils team 4,335 followers

#6 GeniusRocket We are an Ad Agency powered by the creative crowd. Offering both a mark...9,849 followers

#7 Crowdfunding Captures the crowd & brings them together to form a common goal of fund...2,143 followers

#8 Jennifer Moebius PR Maven @ uTest, Crowdsourcing Co. & World's Largest Software Testing M...610 followers

#9 Jason Rickard PCToolsTogether is an initiative to enable the community to translate...21,979 followers

#10 Crowd Source Capital crowdsourcecap Crowd Source Capital - Sources ideas and capital with the support of onl...1,269 followers
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Crowdsourcing Chaordix(TM) partners with IBM

Chaordix joins Council to help shape the information governance framework that will equip enterprises to lead in the future. Chaordix(TM), a leader in delivering technology and know-how to help enterprises adopt crowdsourcing for business advantage, today announced it has joined the Information Governance Council. The group was formed by IBM in 2005 along with dozens of leading corporations, institutions and technology solution providers in a global effort to develop a "blueprint" of common solutions for challenges that apply to security, privacy, trust and corporate compliance issues.

Information Governance is the process by which companies govern appropriate access to their critical data by measuring operational risk and controlling security exposures. The Information Governance Council is working to redefine the management of information governance policy, the impact of policy on business processes and practices, and the enforcement of policy in IT infrastructure, information management and organizational behavior. Members of the Council are collaborating on ways to address these issues using solutions and business concepts from IBM and its business partners.

"The goal of the Information Governance Council is to address one of the biggest issues for businesses today - managing and controlling the mountains of data that reside within companies," said Steven Adler, chair of the Information Governance Council and program director, IBM data governance solutions. "Chaordix is a welcome addition to the Council as their perspective on the impact of social technology and open innovation sheds light on how democratizing data is proving valuable to enterprises."
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