When some people hailing for the trend of crowdsourcing I can’t feel excited about this new trend among the effects of Internet. In the article of “When the Media Meet Crowds of Wisdom”, Muthukumaraswamy mentioned the increasingly digital world where many are predicting the demise of the traditional newspaper, the media are not only turning to the masses to report and help report through the power of Internet journalism but also yield “crowdsourcing” that taps into the collective wisdom of crowds, which is often more powerful than the brainpower of single expert. But the future of this phenomenon is so prospective? I have seen the limitations of crowdsourcing.
The case I chose among five in the article is the “Brian Lehrer Show”. I think it is an appropriate example about crowdsourcing …and its limitations.

The first problem is uncertainty of information validity:
Although Muthukumaraswamy has mentioned different ways to resolve the validation problem such as providing comment system as “Brian Lehrer Show” did. She cited that collective knowledge is scrutinized post-publication, and credibility is established by agreement or refutation (Bruns, 2005). However, according to the critics of crowdsourcing, bloggers often write under pseudonyms. Why I said the Brian Lehrer Show is a good example? Because I think one of the limitations of crowdsourcing is it can only be effective or the data are validated in the general level like information of daily life. I have found the article discussing both two sides of crowdsourcing and indicated that even the famous Ushahidi has problem of validation and accuracy. And in this humanitarian level (not daily life) the validation and accuracy are more important. We can’t risk anyone’s life by believing uncertain crowdsourcing. In additional, the one considered most successful crowdsouring example, Wikipedia, still has hitches and glitches.

The second problem is that dose crowd must have wisdom:
Many advocators of crowdsourcing are proud of the amount of the data providers. Just like Muthukumaraswamy wrote in the passages of Brian Lehrer Show, “The information obtained, however, was still significant since the data were consolidated from a large number of contributors. ” Nevertheless I found an article argues that the precondition is that you need to find “right crowd”. The article also post some questions about the contributor’s preference and the application of crowdsourcing for more complex problem, which is not belong to daily life level, requires dedicated resources. Also, an article on the BBC Website critics that the problem of the term “crowd” is that there’s no individual perspective. “There’s value in mass participation but where possible the people need some expertise. We just call it collaboration frankly. ”

The third problem of crowdsourcing is it’s not for everything:
As Muthukumaraswamy said in the article, “Although simple in design, there ventures are ingenious in that they allow the average person to contribute to the democratic process in meaningful ways.” My point here is not similar to hers. I see the limitation of crowdsourcing that it can only be applied in certain aspects and lower level of problem such as the case of “Brian Lehrer Show” which related to daily life. Just try to think that if the public and the authorities use this crowdsourcing monitoring people tracking their locations, the outcome wouldn’t be so prospective. The BBC Website also points out the serious problem of using crowdsourcing in different level. “The White House tried crowdsourcing when Obama first came in. They asked the public what its main priorities should be. Legalising marijuana came up number one.” At this point, we have to say that the government misuse the crowdsourcing in such high level issue and this may lead to “the tyranny of majority”.

As I mentioned at the first paragraph, the case is a good case for crowdsourcing since it fit the notion of my perspective of “crowdsourcing”. Under the limitation of crowdsourcing, the efficiency can be expand to its maximum but just for issues of general level. Thus, the subheading of this case in the article of Muthukumaraswamy fits the case.

If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.  
Isaac Newton

This is the quotation from Sir Isaac Newton and quoted by Google scholar as it motto and that is its spirit. Using ideas of others as foundation of creating new and more brilliant things which will be shared with whole internet publics is this motto tries to convey. Is “Two heads are better than one” that the style like open-source editing, “stealing” and remixing others idea really makes sense? I have to admit that I am convinced by Johnson’s argument toward this issue. But I have some adjustments of his idea and let me describe my idea step by step, brick by brick.

There is a distinct self-help quality to the early descriptions of commonplacing’s virtues: in the words of one advocate, maintaining the books enabled one to “lay up a fund of knowledge, from which we may at all times select what is useful in the several pursuits of life.”
Johnson 2010

The origin purpose of these devices sure isn’t to lock the online content in a glass box. I believe that to take some ideas from others and merge the context with our own idea is effective and profitable way to product a better idea, just like the purpose of commonplace book. Since the text is so excellent, why not to share it to everyone and use it to work like the Mathwork Nielsen said in his article, integrating intelligence. But we can’t just ignore the thing called Online Intellectual Property Right (IPR). Please imagine that how angry you will be when someone “borrows” your “words” and won big prize in competition which you didn’t. We can understand the importance of IPR through the words below which from America.gov:

There is a common thread that runs through the above discussion of copyrights, patents, and trademarks. Promoting cultural development, fostering innovation and growth, and protecting public health and safety are all commonly held goals. We all want to live in societies where these values are cherished and fostered. In the current debate surrounding intellectual property, it is worth remembering the role of intellectual property protection in our daily lives.

We also can know how hard to enforce the regulation of IPR, don’t mention the IPR on the internet such place that anyone can’t possibly agree with everyone. Neilson has foreseen the problem:

Many of the crucial problems of governance have large communities of interest, and it can be very difficult to get even two people to agree on tiny points of fact, much less values. As a result, we can’t simply open source policy documents in a location where they can be edited by millions of people.
Neilson 2010

Understand how hard to make same value of online IPR, we can only depend on each online communities to follow the basic concepts of IPR setting up regulations. Also, the IPR is relatively subject. We have to keep in mind that once we publish our words in some cyberspace that require to sharing our ideas without paywall we have to accept that our idea might stolen by others.

If you are forwarding or re-posting a message you’ve received, do not change the wording. If the message was a personal message to you and you are re-posting to a group, you should ask permission first. You may shorten the message and quote only relevant parts, but be sure you give proper attribution.
Internet manner

Also, to respect others IPR of ideas, not using them for certain “unkind” purposes is a good internet manner that should be aware by a civil internet user.

After reading Brown and Rohlinger’s interesting article about Internet activism with MoveOn as an example, I thought about Amnesty International immediately. The two reasons I choose Amnesty International as my Internet activism example are (1) it is the early-formed, since 1961, with sound organizational structure and experiences in real activism and (2) the one of the activism organizations I have participated during college when I was young and passionate. I have involved into some activities that not so radical as those described in the Talbot’s report about Burma.

According to Brown and Rohlinger, the Internet serves as an important tool for democracy (Brown and Rohlinger, 2010, p. 133). It helps engage citizen in challenging the dominate stream, facilitating online participation translates into real activities and providing an opportunity for citizen to express their dissents. They describe three mean benefits that make internet a useful tool for challengers and foster democracy in our society. Internet (1) provides a free space for challengers to form oppositional points of view away from dominate groups; (2) it allows individuals to participate anonymously and thus, buffers challengers from the high costs of activism; and (3) it has the potential to move challenges from the virtual to the real world(Brown and Rohlinger, 2010, p. 134).

Examining the both websites, I found some differences from MoveOn, the ideas Brown and Rohlinger derive from and the Amnesty International which I have participated personally. I agree with the ideas that Brown and Rohlinger provided, but I think they somehow are not realistic. The internet do provides a free space for the challengers and activists, we don’t have to pay for browse the website or create our own website for an organization. Although, the both websites ask member to sign up or log in, the information of the membership is not guaranteed for disclosure. It still has a great possibility that government like Burma Junta will use hacker to steal the information of membership. This leads to the second benefits, anonymity of online participation, which emphasized by two authors. The Amnesty International has put all of their members of International Executive Committee online with their pictures and real name. It has the risk that most of the respondents fear in the article. Although, I have seen the “Donate” and “Take Action” clicks on the Amnesty Website and also partially agree with the third benefit that Brown and Rohlinger said in their article. It still has the difficulty to bring activism from “armchair to street”. In spite of the participants are all anonymous online, they will be exposed to publics while they rise their flag with their slogan down the street and reported by media. This is the inevitable consequence when you do the real activism. Since the anonymity seems to be the most important consideration when taking actions, the on-street activities might fail due to this reason I mentioned above. Here is my personal experience, not in the Amnesty International. I joined a non-profit organization as an intern, it is about the surveillance toward Congress with little radical ways. When we did a self organized activity (by all student interns) I was interviewed by a journalist. I didn’t know that she will write all what I have said on the news paper but actually she did with my real name. Suddenly, my family, my classmates and publics know the things I did and the idea I kept. I have received a blog post that critic my words. This was really surprised me and repressed all my passion toward the activism, even online.

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