"Opensourcing" (or a variant, "crowdsourcing") allows consumer participation in brands, media, R&D, etc. MANY books, including James Surowiecki's The Wisdom of Crowds, Glenn Reynolds An Army of Davids, and Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams's Wikinomics address issues and opportunities around opensourcing.
Brands should care, deeply, what people have to say about them - and the digital medium allows for unprecedented two-way dialogue.
But when you enshrine collective opinion as gospel, you can run into issues - as Henry Ford said, 'If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse." This line of thinking fuels Andrew Keen's new book, innocuously entitled: The Cult of the Amateur: How today's Internet is killing our culture.
Keen posits that current systems of content creation and distribution are being trashed (Music done, movies and video games coming up), but nothing is filling their place. He asks: when you take away the economic incentive for artists to create, will they? What happens when the newspaper reporter whose stories are quoted, reposted and annotated around the web, gets fired when his paper cuts staff due to Craig's List sucking away the paper's classified ad revenue? Where does original, informed content come from when the grownups leave the building?
The book raises other questions:
- How does one establish meaningful credibility in a digital sea of self-reflection, recycling, and regurgitation?
- As we trend to more niche personal experiences, how do we create opportunities for people to expand rather than narrow their thinking?
- Self-publishing tools were touted as allowing all to 'express' themselves, but are we replacing a system that is supportive of content creators with an echo-chamber of navel-gazing?
- What is the role of identity vs anonymity in digital culture and a democracy? It takes guts and a system to present a clearly articulated view free of fears of reprisal (or digital tar-and-feathering), but when its cheap and easy to hit someone in a digital driveby, what does that do to the tenor and quality of discourse?
- UGC, micro-fragmentation and tinier and tinier self-aggregated 'belief clusters' are destroying/remaking content creation/distribution models AND messaging. How do brands play in this space, meaningfully, relevantly, and honestly?
These are critical, timely questions and I'd love to hear your thoughts.
The future of our business requires digital fluency. The advent of 'digital', in its glittering, maddening, boggling array is inflicting unimaginable changes so deep and profound we've little idea their short- or long-term impact. I believe we are well-positioned to harness the changes for ourselves and our clients.
We are in the race. And we play to win.