October 25, 2011

Crowdsourcing industry gathers at CrowdConf 2011



Learn about real-world applications — & get a discount

Guest post by Mollie Allick
Director of PR & events, CrowdFlower

On Nov. 1, CrowdFlower will be kicking off the second annual CrowdConf, the world’s largest crowdsourcing conference, at Mission Bay Conference Center in downtown San Francisco. This year’s conference will bring together more than 600 attendees to discuss innovations in crowdsourcing technology and trends taking place in the growing industry.

The main conference will be all day Wednesday, Nov 2. The agenda will focus on practical tips and tools for understanding crowdsourcing through a range of lenses including investing, philanthropy, community building, and creativity. The day includes keynotes, debates, and interactive breakout sessions, and will conclude with a networking poster reception.

Speakers include: Jeff Howe, author who coined the term “crowdsourcing”; Philip Rosedale, Founder of Second Life; Mark Gerson, Chairman of Gerson Lehrman Group; Charlie Cheever, Founder of Quora, Sharon Chiarella, vice president of Amazon Mechanical Turk; and more than 50 other incredible speakers representing the most influential and fastest-growing crowdsourcing companies. Check out the full list of speakers.

Additional learning opportunities

For those looking to learn more, be sure to join us one day prior to the main event on Nov. 1 for two great workshops that will focus more on research and industry-specific tutorials. Workshops offer conference attendees a head start as they engage in a more intimate exchange with other thought leaders and crowdsourcing experts. Workshops will be taught by: Omar Alonso, Technical lead on the Bing team at Microsoft; Matt Lease, assistant professor at the University of Texas; and David Alan Grier, columnist at IEEE Computer. Space is limited, so register now.

Discount for Socialbrite readers

Socialbrite readers can get a $75 discount by entering the code SCLBRTORG when registering.
Register at Eventbrite.

Event details:
What: CrowdConf 2011 – www.crowdconf.com
When: Workshops: Tuesday, Nov. 1 (10am-3pm); Conference: Wednesday, Nov. 2 (8:30am-6:30pm)
Where: Mission Bay Conference Center, 1675 Owens St., San Francisco
Cost: $75 for workshops, $450 for conference
Register: http://crowdconf2011.eventbrite.com/

Mollie Alllick is the Conference Director for CrowdConf and the Events & PR Director for CrowdFlower. She can be reached at [email protected]
June 30, 2011

How CrowdFlower powers crowdsourced labor

Target audience: Nonprofits, social enterprises, NGOs, foundations, businesses, educators. This is part two of a two-part series on crowdsourcing. Also see:

• How nonprofits can use crowdsourcing to work smarter and save money

JD LasicaOne of the most fascinating phenomena in the Web 2.0 world the past couple of years has been the rise of crowdsourcing.

Crowdsourcing comes in a few different flavors (which part 1 covered yesterday). For nonprofits, social enterprises and businesses, the real potential for disruption comes when a global labor force applies itself to a crowdsourced project.

That’s where CrowdFlower comes in. Since my interview with founder-CEO Lukas Biewald at SXSW 15 months ago, the start-up has grown from 15 to 60 employees and is now headquartered in a spiffy second-floor space in San Francisco’s Mission District.

Mollie Allick, director of PR and events for CrowdFlower, talks about what crowdsourcing is and how nonprofits and other organizations can use the power of the crowd to advance their mission in this 4 1/2-minute interview at their offices. “We take large datasets and break them down into small tasks and distribute them to a labor force across the Internet,” she says.

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo

It’s not just about reducing costs. CrowdFlower was one of the partners in the collaborative mobile relief effort Mission 4636, which we wrote about following the Haiti earthquake last year. The short code emergency response communication system enabled earthquake victims in Haiti to get life-saving aid by sending a free mobile text message, which local volunteers translated as needed.

One important thing CrowdFlower brings to the party today is that they’re the organizers behind the biggest crowdsourcing gathering around: CrowdConf, to be held Nov. 1-2 at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco, geared to both industry and the academic sector. Last year’s event drew almost 500 people. Continue reading

June 29, 2011

How nonprofits can use crowdsourcing to work smarter and save money

Greenfunder funds socially responsible projects and businesses.

Target audience: Nonprofits, social enterprises, NGOs, foundations, businesses, educators. This is part one of a two-part series on crowdsourcing.

By Lindsay Oberst
Socialbrite staff

Lindsay OberstHigh-quality work at a low cost. That’s what crowdsourcing can achieve for nonprofts that wish to save money while pursuing their mission.

Crowdsourcing refers to harnessing the skills and enthusiasm of those outside an organization who are prepared to volunteer their time contributing content or skills and solving problems, sometimes for free, sometimes for a fee. An offshoot, crowd funding, describes the collective efforts to pool their money together on behalf of a cause, project or business. Kiva (loans to entrepreneurs), Crowdrise and Kickstarter (raise funds for creative projects) and Greenfunder, which launched in May as a site to raise funds for socially responsible projects and businesses, are among the burgeoning number of crowd funding sites. (See a few others in our roundup of 24 tools for fundraising with social media.)

Crowdsourcing, a bit of a catch-all term, can be used to gather information, solicit advice, save money or get stuff done. It can also help to inform decisions, demonstrate inclusiveness and bring a whole new meaning to collaboration.

We’ve seen the rise of community crowdsourcing with the advent of social media, but it’s always been part of the way society works. And nonprofits have always been at the forefront of crowdsourcing long before the term was coined in 2006. The idea simply fits in with the way small organizations work.

Here are a few quick, low-key ways crowdsourcing works

Say you’re a nonprofit looking to improve your services. You ask your Facebook fans and Twitter followers — people who have chosen to connect with you — how they think you can become better. They feel included in the process and want to answer, and then your organization has a solution to its problem. That’s what crowdsourcing can do — it can get a job done.

Or take blog posts. Studies show that people respond better to posts with images, so your organization seeks to include a photo along with the information you provide on your website. Where can you find images? Two good starts are Socialbrite’s Free Photos Directory and Flickr’s directory of Creative Commons photos, with 160 million photos available under various licenses. Both can be used to find free photos that you can use for your website, blog posts, reports, presentations and more — just give the photographers proper attribution. Continue reading

August 24, 2010

Crowdsourcing conference coming to SF


JD LasicaProbably the most intriguing addition to the conference landscape is the upcoming inaugural CrowdConf, the first conference that focuses on the emerging field of crowdsourcing and the future of distributed work. Researchers, technologists, outsourcing experts, legal scholars and artists will gather Oct. 4 in San Francisco to discuss how crowdsourcing is beginning to transform the democratizing and flattening of the global labor market.

I hope to make it there, though a planned Air Force blogging expedition to Hawaii may prevent it.

Lukas Biewald, CEO of CrowdFlower, is spearheading the creation of the conference, which includes a call for papers with a deadline nine days from today. Here are the details:

When: Monday, Oct. 4, 2010, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Where: The St. Regis Hotel, 123 3rd St., San Francisco

Tickets: $350 before Sept. 13, with discounts for students and researchers. Register here.

Speakers include: Tim Ferriss, Author, “The 4-Hour Work Week”; Sharon Chirella, VP, Amazon Mechanical Turk; Maynard Webb, CEO, LiveOps; Jonathan Zittrain, author and Professor of Law and Computer Science, Harvard. Continue reading

July 23, 2010

Crowdflower: Toward a world of crowdsourced labor

Crowdflower: Toward a crowdsourced world from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaOne of the most interesting start-ups that keeps popping up on my radar screen is Crowdflower, which connects nonprofits and companies with people around the globe looking to work on crowdsourced tasks.

It’s a fascinating glimpse at future contract labor models and at how work relationships are becoming more distributed, global, ephemeral and efficient.

Crowdflower takes simple tasks and breaks them down, using a global network of workers to determine, say, if a tweet about a brand is negative or positive, or if a piece of content violates a site’s community guidelines.

The person might spend 2 minutes on a task, an hour, or more. “The advantage is that the person doesn’t have to drive to work, they don’t even have to sign up for a website. They can just come to a job post, accomplish a task and get paid — in minutes,” says Crowdflower CEO and founder Lukas Biewald.

I spent three minutes chatting with Lukas at an extremely noisy rooftop party at South by Southwest Interactive. The video won’t win any awards for aesthetics — I was being jostled while holding a Kodak Zi8 hi-def camcorder — but it’s evidence that when you meet interesting people, it’s good to have a handheld recorder in your pocket.

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo

One mind-blowing angle: You’d be surprised at the number of people willing to perform tasks, such as in a Facebook game, in exchange for virtual currency that can buy them more trees in Zynga’s Farmville or more weapons in Mafia Wars. “People don’t realize how much this virtual money means to people,” he says.
Continue reading

February 16, 2010

Helping Haitians via mobile, crowdsourcing & social media

New platform revolutionizes the way emergency response takes place

Guest post by Katrina Heppler

Bravo to the thousands of volunteers worldwide who are assisting with translating Creole mobile text messages to help people in Haiti following the devastating 7.0M earthquake that struck the nation Jan. 12.

You may not have heard of Mission 4636, but this is where a lot of the most remarkable relief work is taking place. Mission 4636 is a short code emergency response communication system that enables earthquake victims in Haiti to get life-saving aid by sending a free mobile text message. It’s a joint-project of Ushahidi, FrontlineSMS, CrowdFlower and Samasource.

Mission 4636 — named for one of the SMS short codes for Haiti relief efforts — is an outstanding example of global collaboration and the power of human ingenuity to help people and save lives through technology. A huge “hats off” to them as well as to the many organizations that have also come together to make Mission 4636 successful: inSTEDD, DigiCel, local radio networks, local NGOs and the many emergency responders.

In the video interview above, Brian Herbert of Ushahidi, Robert Munro of FrontlineSMS, Lukas Biewald of CrowdFlower and Leila Janah of Samasource share background on how they came together with the support of other organizations on the ground in Haiti to deploy a critical emergency communications system to help save lives and provide emergency resources to people following the earthquake. This is a massive effort across multiple non-profit and for-profit companies and individual volunteers from around the country and globe (more than 14 countries have been involved in translation).


In the weeks after the tragedy, text messages to the dedicated Haiti emergency short code 4636 increased about 10 percent each day – with about one text a second coming through. Technology and people power are playing a critical role in getting information to military and aid workers on the ground. Beyond the immediate help for people in need in Haiti, the program will build computer centers so Haitian refugees can do valuable digital work, get paid, and bolster the economy around them. Continue reading