Here’s a crowdsourcing project to interest the burgeoning writer in you – in October 2009 BBC America Audiobooks gave people the chance to write a story with famed urban fantasy writer Neil Gaiman via the most contemporary of social media art forms, Twitter. Gaiman provided the first line of the story (“Sam was brushing her hair when the girl in the mirror put down the hairbrush, smiled & said, ‘We don’t love you anymore.’”) and has invited dozens of twitterphiles to continue the story in 140 character increments. The story-thon went on for 8 days and is now complete and published on BBCAA’s blog (http://bit.ly/GmN5L). The audiobook, to be read by Gaiman, will be titled and published shortly.
The process was as follows: anyone could Tweet the next sentence, but a BBCAA editor was charged with sifting and selecting sentences to make a cohesive storyline, and came up with the finished product. Surprisingly, even though Neil Gaiman had very little to do with the actual arc of the storyline, the character development or the ending, the final selection is very Gaimanesque in tone. Must be due to the number of Gaiman fans that contributed!
What do you think? Collaboration is not a new concept in the writing world – the shared universe of Dragonlance is one such example. However, with collaboration being the highway of the internet, there are a bunch of pretty cool online creative collaborations taking place such as such as Altered Books (http://bit.ly/w9jxb) and ArsPoetics (http://bit.ly/3b9nOd).
Read the story here (http://bit.ly/GmN5L) & let us know your thoughts on crowdsourcing the creative arts.
Last week, Make Magazine announced a new series of educational and inspirational videos called “The Elements of Humanity”, designed to inspire students to become interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), the series is a set of interviews with prominent scientists and technologists which seeks to uncover each person’s own fascination with science and how that fascination has shaped their life’s work.
In the clip above, “Fascination with Fossils”, Louise Leakey says, “I finally found evidence that put Africa on the map as the place we all came from.” A member of the storied Leakey family, Louise Leakey has continued to explore Africa in search of fossils that tell the story of our human origins. A Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of Stony Brook, New York, Leakey is also a National Geographic Explorer in Residence.
These interviews of working scientists and technologists were recorded at SciFoo, an unstructured conference on Science and Technology organized this past summer by O’Reilly Media along with Nature Magazine and Google. Other interviews, which showcase scientists in an informal setting discussing their life’s passion as they would with a new acquaintance at a dinner party, include Mathematician John Mighton talking about his fascination with how kids learn math, and Google computer scientist Rebecca Moore talking about her fascination with mapping tools.
How can you tell when crowdsourcing has hit the mainstream? When it’s featured on one of TV’s hottest shows.
“House, M.D.” is about a doctor whose specialty is diagnosing unusual diseases. Each week’s episode features a patient presenting with unexplainable symptoms who requires tests and treatments until the diagnostic team finds the real disease. This week’s episode followed this pattern, but with one exception.
Cue up crowdsourcing.
The episode begins in the traditional style where a patient, a young, technologically “plugged-in” virtual video game creator, is admitted with a bizarre ailment. Unfortunately for him, the famous diagnostician he’s Googled (Dr. House) has quit his job and it’s up to House’s team to solve the mystery, led by his colleague, Dr. Foreman.
When the patient doesn’t think he’s being treated quickly enough, he turns to crowdsourcing for his cure, offering $25,000 for anyone online who can correctly diagnose him. Through a series of events, Dr. Foreman thinks the patient needs chemotherapy, but a team member decides it wouldn’t hurt to check the ideas submitted online before starting the patient on chemo. In the end, the crowdsourced idea was the correct one and the patient’s disease is correctly treated. The irony is that it was Dr. House who posted the correct diagnosis and received the $25,000 check.
Jackie Bassett is founder and CEO of BT Industrials Inc., where she helps companies design innovation into their business strategies and processes, turning problems into profits. Jackie is the author of “Drawing on Brilliance”, of which InnoCentive CEO Dwayne Spradlin said:
“Drawing on Brilliance is a guilty pleasure for aficionados of invention everywhere. Packed with stories and hand drawn diagrams from patent filings for many creations we now take for granted, I found myself immersed. Ever wonder where some of those famous ideas came from? The comments in the margins from the inventors only help to bring a historical excitement to flipping through the pages. How did Edison and Bell visualize their own creations? This book is not only for inventors, but for those needing a constant reminder that creativity and problem solving are inherently human processes. With the right creative spark, we all have the ability to change the world in remarkable ways!”
Can one person, with one crazy idea really change the world? Or how about just two people? Or how about – just you? What does it really take? Let’s take a look……
Two bicycle shop repairmen from Ohio solved a problem that no one else could: not even DaVinci or Galileo. They weren’t even engineers. Yet their idea spawned an entire new industry that created millions of jobs: Wilbur & Orville Wright.
How? Controlled flight was not a weight and balance issue like so many for centuries before then believed. Increasing power only added to the weight, which required more power, which just added more weight and so on – making the problem seemingly unsolvable.
Controlled flight was an issue of pitch & yaw: something bicycle shop repairmen understand better than anyone else. They spent years reviewing every prior attempt at flight before they saw what the real problem was. They then went on to solve the right problem!
Make The World A Much Cooler Place
W.H. Carrier, was raised on a farm and had to mow lawns and do lots of odd jobs to pay his way through college. He started his company, Carrier Corporation, on a shoe string budget. His inventions enabled man-made control over temperature, humidity, ventilation and air quality soon raised the standard of living around the world forever!
Josephine Cochran thought she was married to a successful grocer but only discovered after his death that she was an impoverished widow. Needing to support herself she took her idea for an automatic dishwasher to the world, toiling for several years until she found a market for it. With no formal training she went on to win awards for “best mechanical construction”. Her company was eventually acquired by what is now known as KitchenAid, owned by Whirlpool.
John Atalla, worked in a lab where three Nobel laureates were already hard at work looking to solve a complex problem. He said to his bosses, ‘Why don’t you let me look in the other direction where nobody’s looking?’ Looking in the opposite direction led him to create (PIN), the personal identification code and encryption system that permits us to access our bank accounts and make purchases without cash. He has always said ‘I attribute almost all my inventions to the fact that I will look in the path that people aren’t traditionally going in.’”
This is an economy where everyone can make a difference. So look at the masters of innovation for answers, drawing on brilliance. Everyone can and must make their contribution – and change the world in remarkable ways!
Giving grades is often cited as the biggest downside of teaching. In too many cases, it reduces the importance on the knowledge imparted in favor of a contest to see who can repeat the teacher’s words most precisely.
Professor Cathy Davidson of Duke University thinks she’s found a solution: handing the power over to her students. Per her blog: “this year, when I teach ‘This Is Your Brain on the Internet,’ I’m trying out a new point system. Do all the work, you get an A. Don’t need an A? Don’t have time to do all the work? No problem. You can aim for and earn a B. There will be a chart. You do the assignment satisfactorily, you get the points. Add up the points, there’s your grade. Clearcut. No guesswork. No second-guessing ‘what the prof wants.’ Clearcut. Student is responsible.”
If the grading students determine that an assignment hasn’t been completed satisfactorily, the student has a chance to resubmit the assignment, for another chance at the points. If all assignments are deemed satisfactory, the student gets 100 points, for an A in the class.
According to Davidson, every study on peer review among students shows that students perform at a higher level, and with more care, when they know they are being evaluated by their peers than when they know only the teacher and the TA will be grading.
Comments to Davidson’s proposal are mostly supportive, though one raises an example that illustrates a downside – gaming the system. A professor from Buffalo tried this form of grading and found that 2 groups emerged, one composed of fraternity brothers, the other a group that had self-formed within the class. These groups each determined that they would vote each other up and the other group down – regardless of the quality of work. When the teacher intervened, she got complaints of “you set the rules, you can’t change them now.” To be fair, she was grading on a curve, which she admits may have been a mistake.
What do you think? Would you trust your peers to grade you fairly? Can this be done, as long as safeguards are put in place to prevent things from getting personal?
To read more on this story, check out this article in Inside Higher Ed.
Sitali Mushemi-Blake and her team won two prizes in the Lion’s Den Challenge, a programme sponsored by King’s College London.
"Winning the Lion’s Den Challenge has helped our enterprise secure seed funds to register our company and cover some of the legal costs. My experience with InnoCentive has no doubt enhanced my career path and confidence."