Open source journalism vs. crowdsourcing

Where is crowdsourcing at in 2010? How is crowdsourcing different from open source journalism, and which is appropriate for what types of stories? This is listing of links to try and illustrate the differences and similarities between crowdsourcing and open source journalism. How you structure a project with many participants will have a significant impact on the end results.

Open-source journalism

The Jane’s incident takes Slashdot’s evolution one major step forward. Slashdot readers are now actively shaping media coverage of the topics near and dear to their geeky little hearts. They are helping journalists get the story right, which is a far cry from exerting censorship. Just as open source programmers would critique a beta release of software filled with bugs, the Slashdot readers panned the first release of Jane’s journalistic offering — and the upgrade, apparently, will be quick to follow.

The original article.

Why the open source way trumps the crowdsourcing way
In essence, open source projects have many contributors and many beneficiaries while crowdsourcing projects have many contributors and few beneficiaries. Open source is advantageous because “everyone who contributes also benefits.” When crowdsourcing is a competition, there are limited beneficiaries and the effort of everyone else can be wasted.

What I Learned from Assignment Zero
Jay Rosen debriefs on Assignment Zero, a distributed trend project in partnership with, with the goal of tracking “the spread of peer production and wisdom-of-the-crowd efforts across the social landscape, including the practice of crowdsourcing.” They learned they needed to: understand and articulate the different styles of labor, grok contributors’ motivations, and plan for unexpected levels of participation. Also see Derek Powazek’s review.

Four crowdsourcing lessons from the Guardian’s (spectacular) expenses-scandal experiment
The Guardian’s MP expenses project was put together in a week, and employed more than 20,000 volunteers to review 170,000 documents in the first 80 hours. Participation was quite strong at the very beginning, in line with the publicity, and then tapered off.

Projects to check out include: WNYC’s “Are You Being Gouged?“, The Guardian’s “Investigate your MP’s expenses“, The New York Times’ “Moment in Time“, and SeeClickFix.

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