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Writers and Editors (RSS feed)

How crowdsourcing works

(through examples)
Wikipedia: A Model for Crowdsourced Publishing (Scott Vankirk on Jane Friedman's blog, 10-16-12) "Wikipedia is the original, and the most stunningly successful, crowdsourced application to date. Its store of knowledge is staggering. It’s even got a great definition of crowdsourcing. So how would this crowdsourced publishing work?
---You would want it to be open and transparent.
---You would design it to be self supporting.
---You would make it as inclusive as possible. There should be tools available that will allow any of the hundreds of existing reading/writing/publishing sites to become affiliates with the ability to participate in the crowd.
Wikipedia's List of Crowdsourcing Projects includes
---Any software project with an open Beta test.
---By the People, a transcription and tagging crowdsourcing project from the Library of Congress.
---CitySourced, an enterprise civic engagement platform that provides a mobile app for citizens to identify and report non-emergency civic issues, such as public works, quality of life, and environmental issues. Etc.
• Many writers use crowdsourcing to arrive at a good title, partly to ask for suggestions and partly to ask for opinions (which of these titles do you like best?).

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4 Companies That are Killing It with Crowdsourcing (PlanBox) LEGO, Unilever, PepsiCo, and Amazon.
Don't Crowdsource Your Cover Design (Jane Friedman, PW, 5-24-19) Or at least don't crowdsource it with other authors. If anything, use readers. "Be intentional, focused, and reader driven when making decisions."
37 Great Examples of Crowdsourcing(We Thinq, 12-19-16)
Artistic Freedom vs. Crowdsourcing, Censorship, and the Dunning-Kruger Effect (Anne R. Allen, 3-1-15) A lot of online complaints "are examples of something called The Dunning-Kruger Effect, named for two scientists at Cornell University "who proved that people who are the most confident and vocal are generally the most ignorant and incompetent. In other words, the loudest complaints usually come from the least-informed people." We don't always need to listen to the Political Correctness police. Many banned book lists include such titles like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer which also appear on basic reading lists for American literature.
Crowdsourcing (Marshall Hargrave, Investopedia, 5-16-21) "Crowdsourcing provides many benefits for companies that are seeking innovative ideas from a large group of individuals, hoping to better their products or services. In addition, crowdsourcing niches from real estate to philanthropy are beginning to proliferate and bring together communities to achieve a common goal."
7 Best Crowdsourcing PlatformsAdam Enfroy) Writeups about Innocentive, Openideo, Amazon Mechanical Turk, uTest, Upwork, 99Designs, and Cad Crowd, My Starbucks idea, Greenpeace (crowdsourcing for ads), Airbnb.
9 Great Examples of Crowdsourcing in the Age of Empowered Consumers (Kathryn Kearns, Tweak Your Biz, 7-10-15) Writeups about Waze, McDonalds Burger builder, Lego, Samsung, Lays, Pebble (Kickstarter’s biggest crowd funding success to date),
Crowdsourcing Businss ModelThe Business Model Analyst)
Crowdsourcing the public's memory: Still looking for that picture book you loved as a kid? Try asking Instagram (Rachel Treisman, NPR, 12-27-21) Marie-Pascale Traylor is the powerhouse behind an Instagram Page called What's That Book?, in which someone asks if anyone remembers the name of a book about "a girl with magic powers who learns how to fly" that she remembers from childhood, and readers come up with the title (which helps them find a vintage copy of the book).



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Storycorps and other ways to remember (and record) a life

This started as a piece about StoryCorps, but I got carried away and added other ways of remembering:

       How StoryCorps started:  "A year ago, an ambitious oral-history project called StoryCorps set out from Washington, D.C., to record and preserve extraordinary tales from ordinary Americans. The project's founder, David Isay, talks about recording true-life tales, on the anniversary of StoryCorps' first cross-country tour. The project has sent two Airstream trailers around the nation, recording conversations between family members and their loved ones." ~ StoryCorps Founder David Isay (Interview for Talk of the Nation, 5-23-06)

      "The StoryCorps project was inspired by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) recordings made during the 1930s. "It's not about celebrities," David Isay says. "It's about the kind of quiet heroes that make up America, the soul of America." To prepare, Isay made pilot recordings of his relatives and relatives of staff members. "It's a very moving experience for people," he says. "...A lot of times we see people just break down crying at the beginning of an interview, just because they feel so honored that this relative really wants to listen to what they have to say." ~       Read or listen to Storycorps, An Oral History of America (as heard on Morning Edition, 10-23-03)

        Here is a favorite story from the early years: When AIDS Was an Unknown (Listen: Morning Edition, National Public Radio, 12-2-05)

        In 1985, Tom Ward died of AIDS, at the age of 40. In 2005, his older sister, Mary Caplan, who had taken care of him as he was dying, went to a StoryCorps booth in New York City to remember him. Speaking with her friend Emily Collazo, Caplan recalled the mood of the time, the way people spoke about AIDS -- and how her life changed after she brought Ward home from the hospital for the last time. MC: "A friend took me to StoryCorps as a gift, as a surprise. I had never heard of StoryCorps. So I thought I was going into—I had no idea what I was going in to do. It was a gift. It was a gift. And I was happy to accept the gift. 

    "And I was surprised to hear myself. As everyone has said, something happens in that booth, where your very private thoughts that rumble around in your head and your memories suddenly come forth, and the voice that Dave just talked about, that's your soul. Somehow it reaches down and touches that part of us that's not often touched....

"I think when we don't speak things out loud, when they stay inside of us, they take on a different meaning. And it's not only the listener who hears our story. I think when we speak and hear our own words out loud and remember things behind the words and the feelings, it takes on a different meaning. So I became not only a speaker, but also the listener, of my own words. And it had a profound effect upon me."

        Here's an excerpt: "MC (from VPM transcript): I brought him home, and my children were there. We all took care of him. I promised him I wouldn't leave the room, so they used to bring me up sandwiches and things. And I found myself, like I did with my children, singing lullabies and I sang Tora Laura Laura to him one night and I was so off key and when I finished, I kissed his forehead and said, 'I'm sorry, I know that wasn't very good.' And I never left him and then I had to go to the bathroom and when I came back, he wasn't breathing and he was dead. I never knew how people were going to respond when I said, 'Tom died' 'Oh what did he die of?' 'Oh, AIDS.' 'Oh, well, you know, maybe he should have died' or 'Maybe that's God's way.' And one day I went into a card shop. And there was a gay young man and I was buying a sympathy card, and I said, 'I take care of my brother's friends. My brother—my brother died of AIDS, and I said it in a whisper. He said, 'You don't have to whisper . . . to me.' And he came around the counter and he hugged me. And I didn't know him, but I loved him."
       ~Mary Caplan, about her experience doing a 40-minute interview in the StoryCorps booth.


You can listen to Mary Caplan tells her story to Emily Collazo, about taking care of her brother as he was dying of AIDS. (Or read the full transcript at VPM (11-8-07) 

      If you've listened on Fridays to National Public Radio's "Morning Edition," you've no doubt heard interviews from Dave Isay's StoryCorps project--and now you can read them in You can also buy the book (or check out from a library) Listening Is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project, edited with an introduction by David Isay. This is a collection of Storycorps e essays, along with a photograph of the person being interviewed and usually the interviewer as well. The essays are grouped by theme: "Home and Family," "Work and Dedication," "Journeys," "History and Struggle" and finally "Fire and Water," recollections of survivors of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, some of the most moving interviews in the  book.


A few comments about memories, memoir, and family stories:


"The real family legacy is the stories, not the sterling."
              ~ Andrea Gross


"I can't stress enough how different it is to write about the real and the unreal. When I started writing my memoir my whole metabolism changed. I'd just turned 50 and I assumed it was just age, but I didn't want to get out of bed in the morning and I had the most delicious lie-ins of my life! It was just sheer emotional exhaustion, I now realise. Communing with your significant dead is what it amounts to, and that is an exhausting thing. Not unpleasant, but still hard work."

      ~ Martin Amis, quoted on BBC World Service on How to Write Memoirs   (an absolutely wonderful few website pages)

"Every American may be working on a screenplay, but we are also continually updating a treatment of our own life - and the way in which we visualize each scene not only shapes how we think about ourselves, but how we behave, new studies find. By better understanding how life stories are built, this work suggests, people may be able to alter their own narrative, in small ways and perhaps large ones..."

       ~ Benedict Carey, This Is Your Life (and How You Tell It) , Science section, The New York Times (5-22-07)


"This packrat has learned that what the next generation will value most is not what we owned but the evidence of who we were and the tales of how we loved. In the end, it's the family stories that are worth the storage."

       ~ Ellen Goodman, Collect story-filled heirlooms and toss junk (Deseret News, 4-12-02)


"There are no ordinary lives....by stepping into the great gift of memory, we liberate ourselves."
        ~Ken Burns, about the PBS series,The War


"Memory revises itself endlessly. We remember a vivid person, a remark, a sight that was unexpected, an occasion on which we felt something profoundly. The rest falls away. We become more exalted in our memories than we actually were, or less so. The interior stories we tell about ourselves rarely agree with the truth. Someone uneasy with the candor of his archive could delete the material that pained him. People do it all the time: they destroy papers; they leave instructions in their wills for letters to be burned.

      In the novel So Long, See You Tomorrow"," William Maxwell writes, "Too many conflicting emotional interests are involved for life ever to be wholly acceptable, and possibly it is the work of the storyteller to rearrange things so that they conform to this end. In any case, in talking about the past we lie with every breath we draw."

      In The Seven Sins of Memory: How the Mind Forgets and Remembers, the Harvard psychologist Daniel Schacter mentions the work of Shelley Taylor, a psychologist at U.C.L.A., who has written that optimistic people tend to recall their pasts more favorably, and that the versions of their selves that they recalled contributed to their mental and physical health."

           ~ Alec Wilkinson, "Remember This?" in The New Yorker (5-21-07)

“Families are united more by mutual stories -- of love and pain and adventure -- than by biology. ‘Do you remember when . . .’ bonds people together far more than shared chromosomes . . . a family knows itself to be a family through its shared stories."

            ~ Daniel Taylor, The Healing Power of Stories

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