HOME
          
LATEST STORY
What’s the right news experience on a phone? Stacy-Marie Ishmael and BuzzFeed are trying to figure it out
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
June 29, 2010, 10 a.m.

Collaboration instead of the crowd: Gabriella Coleman & Karim Lakhani on how people work together online

News organizations, faced with the dual incentives of declining resources and the possibilities of the Internet, have tried any number of angles for gathering the labor of its audience in ways useful to the enterprise. (Crowdsourcing is the term, for which you can credit/blame outgoing Nieman Fellow Jeff Howe.) But outside a few oft-repeated anecdotes, it’s sometimes unclear what lasting value those efforts have produced. Or at the very least, the value isn’t as obvious as it is in the open-source software movement, where enormously popular and powerful programs have been built on the backs of coordinated volunteer labor.

Above you’ll see two people who know a lot about that software world talking about what they’ve learned about how collaborative communities work. This is a video of a plenary session at the recent Future of News and Civic Media Conference at MIT. The lineup: Gabriella Coleman, an NYU professor who studies online collaboration, particularly in the Debian Linux community; Karim Lakhani, the Harvard Business School professor, who studies distributed innovation systems and who has also spent a lot of time looking at the software world; and moderator Chris Csikszentmihályi, director of the MIT Center for Future Civic Media.

Neither Coleman nor Lakhani specifically research the journalism world, but that’s part of what I find appealing about them: They don’t bring along either the assumptions of professional identity that many journalists do or the blind webby optimism of some sloganeers. They know the “crowd” can do amazing things, but they also know it’s really, really hard to optimize systems to ensure amazement happens. Give them a listen.

POSTED     June 29, 2010, 10 a.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
What’s the right news experience on a phone? Stacy-Marie Ishmael and BuzzFeed are trying to figure it out
“Nobody has to read you. You have to earn that. You have to respect people’s attention.”
Come work for Nieman Lab
We have an opening for a staff writer in our Cambridge newsroom.
The newsonomics of telling your audience what they should do
At WNYC, a public radio station is getting more aggressive about telling people what to do: go vote, get more sleep, stay healthy. What happens when a news outlet starts talking about behavior change?
What to read next
686
tweets
Ken Doctor: The New York Times’ financials show the transition to digital accelerating
The numbers may look flat, but they contain a continuing set of ups and downs. Up next: executing on a year’s worth of launches.
496Controlled chaos: As journalism and documentary film converge in digital, what lessons can they share?
Old and new media types from journalism, documentary, and technology backgrounds gathered at MIT to share practices and discuss mutual concerns.
389Here’s some remarkable new data on the power of chat apps like WhatsApp for sharing news stories
At least in certain contexts, WhatsApp is a truly major traffic driver — bigger even than Facebook. Should there be a WhatsApp button on your news site?
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
PubliCola
National Journal
FactCheck.org
Salon
Journal Register Co.
Al Jazeera
The Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News
Los Angeles Times
SF Appeal
The Nation
Press+
MinnPost