Last week’s class in Tech 621, was about crowdsourcing and collective work done on social networking sites. Prior to class, I wrote a post about how I felt that this phenomenon occurred outside of the construct of the Internet. After some thought, and class last week, I’d like to share some new thoughts I have.
I concluded in the post with this thought:
There’s no denying that the crowdsourcing that occurs on the Internet is unique. It creates products with open source programming, and quality products in online participation. In the offline world crowdsourcing takes a different form, especially in politics. Crowdsourcing definitely exists, but it may take more of a form where there are more constraints. It may in fact be a difference in values of transparency
After attending class, I realized that crowdsourcing doesn’t happen in the same regard as it does online. In class I mentioned that I did not see much of a difference between a controversial facility siting that involved government coercion and public participation. In this case the facility would be sited with the intention that the public was involved and it was the best solution possible. As the discussion continued we concluded that a crowdsourcing project would occur if the government left the tools for building the facility and just left the people to build it where and how they pleased.
The phenomenon I was describing was more of a civil society approach rather than seeing it through the lens of collective action. Also since the resources on the Internet are almost endless, it seems as if there really is no “Tragedy of the Commons” that occurs online.
What I’m concluding from this class is that we need to be very careful in the academic world about how we approach Internet phenomena. If we jump to conclusions too quickly, we may miss the actual behavior that we are trying to explain. In this sense I saw the Internet as a civil society, where that model does not exactly fit. This is more of the reason that there needs to be continued work in the social sciences about the Internet and the behavior associated with it. Unless the plug gets pulled on the Internet (which does not seem likely), social networking, social media, and these phenomena are not going anywhere anytime soon.