This week we will be looking at the wealth of companies that use crowdsourcing as part of their business. Here’s a list of companies that you could research: 538, 99Designs, airbnb, Amazon reviews/product recommendations, Apple HealthKit/ResearchKit, benefunder, Book Country, Buy Amazon Reviews, change.org, CloudFactory, Couchsurfing, coursera, Crowdee, CrowdMed, Crowds On Demand, Daemo, Defined Crowd, The Doe Network, Duolingo, EatWith, eBay buyer/seller ratings, edX, EyeWire, Facewatch, Field Agent, Figure Eight, Flattr, Foursquare, Freebase, Freelancer, Gems, Go Fund Me, Good Judgment Open, Google Map Maker, Global Voices, Iceland’s Crowdsourced Constitution, Idibon, IndieGoGo, Innocentive, Instacart, Invisible Boyfriend, iStockPhoto, Intrade, Iowa Election Markets, Kaggle, Kickstarter, Kiva, leadGenius, Lending Club, Longitude Prize of 1714, Lyft, Microworkers, Microsoft Prediction Lab, MTurk List, Netflix prize, OpenStreetMap, Orchestra, Parchment, PatientsLikeMe, Phrase Detectives, Postmates, PredictWise, Premise, Prolific Academic, PublicStuff, Quirky, Quora, Qualtrics, Rotten Tomatoes, Samasource, scale, scistarter, Sesame Credit - is this fake?, Silk Road, Stackexchange, Stackoverflow, Sunshine, SquadRun, TaskRabbit, Threadless, Thumbtack, topcoder, TurkOpticon, TurkPrime, TurkServer, Uber, Udacity, Upwork (formerly oDesk), Ushahidi, Waze, We the People, Wikipedia’s AI helper, WorkFusion, XPRIZE, Yelp, Zensors, Zombi Lingo (French). You are also welcome to profile a relevant company that is not on this list (but please verify your choice beforehand with the instructor).
This assignment has two deliverables:
This assignment can be done individually or in pairs.
First, please sign up for a company or project. Please do not pick a company that another team has already signed up for. If there’s a company that you’d like to research that isn’t on the list, you are welcome to ask the instructor or the TA to ask if it is OK.
You should independently research the company, and then fill in your answers about it in this questionnaire. Your short answers to these questions on Friday, January 29, 2016. Remember to save your survey answers on your own computer, so that you can have a copy to use when you do your video profile.
You will record a short 5 to 7 minute video presentation about your company. Your presentation should address the following questions:
Your presentation video is due on Friday, February 12, 2016. To turn in your video, please upload it to Vimeo. Then give us the link to your video using this form. Make sure that your video is publicly viewable or that you give us a password to view it on the web form.
If you have managed to make it this far in life without having to sign up for accounts for things on the internet, here are more detailed instructions:
Below are the questions that you will be asked to answer about the company or project that you are profiling. Please submit your answers via the questionnaire. We recommend that you save your survey answers in a file on your own computer, rather than typing them directly into the Google form, so that you can have a copy to use when you do your video profile. You won’t be able to access your answers from Google after you press submit.
This assignment is worth 10 points of your overall grade in the course. The rubric for the assignment is given below.
Video profile: http://player.vimeo.com/video/106347045"Who were the founders? 2011 Iceland Constitutional Council (25 members)
When was it started? 2011
Does it have any interesting origin story? In 2008, a banking crisis resulted in the near-collapse of the Icelandic economy. The banks were heavily in debt due to the global recession and corruption among the political and banking elite. In addition, citizens were unhappy that many of the country's rich fishing and geothermal national resources were being increasingly owned by foreign interests. In 2009, the center-right government collapsed and was replaced by a government that appointed a council of 25 ordinary citizens to recommend constitutional reform to the Althing, the parliamentary body of Iceland.
94% of the population of Iceland (estimated at 324,000) have access to internet, making it one of the most “online” countries in the world. The constitutional council decided to solicit suggestions for constitutional reform on Facebook and Twitter via a six-question survey. After using the answers to this survey to develop an initial draft, the council gradually iterated over twelve drafts of the new legislation and consistently communicated with ordinary citizens via Facebook and Twitter. Updates of each draft were posted on a public website. Naturally, the opportunity to influence legislation made the survey incredibly popular. By the end of the voting period, over half of Iceland's voting-eligible body had contributed in some way to the process.
In short, they provided the service of giving citizens a voice in the writing of their Constitution.
Video profile: http://player.vimeo.com/video/106529777"Who were the founders? Dread Pirate Roberts is the pseudonym of the founder and operator of Silk Road. Ross William Ulbricht is currently accused of being DPR.
When was it started? February 2011
Does it have any interesting origin story? Silk Road was founded by Dread Pirate Roberts, or DPR, as what he or she calls a practical libertarian system. It was founded and designed to run on libertarian principles of no centralized power (like the government) and free markets.
Designed so that the state couldn't touch it for a very long time, Silk Road was built by DPR, not just for monetary reasons, but primarily to make a difference in the world markets. He or she believes that in such a free market environment, the existence of drug cartels and violence is minimized to almost zero, and the competitive nature of Silk Road also enforces quality products from vendors.
Vendors essentially stock the shelves at Silk Road, and put up goods for sale (typically shipped to any part of the world, from any part of the world) and customers place orders, and review the service and quality of goods provided by the various vendors.
Silk Road differs from Amazon and eBay, though, for 2 major reasons:
1. Silk Road is completely anonymous. It used a Tor system which encrypts the location and meta-data of anyone accessing and hosting the website, making it really difficult for authorities to track down users. It also conducts all transactions in BitCoin, an online currency, which is unregulated in the global markets.
2. Apart from your regular goods like books, apparel, and merchandise (which comprise only a small fraction of transactions on Silk Road), the main bulk of transactions are narcotics from marijuana to LSD and heroin.
Silk Road builds off typical e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay (it certainly doesn't replace them, though). As stated before it enhances privacy by running on the Tor system and allowing trades only by BitCoin, and is used primarily for buying and selling narcotic substances.
A typical user would download the Tor Browser, so that their IP and other meta-data is private, and would find the newest link to the Silk Road website.
They could then browse through the various goods on offer and purchase them via BitCoin. They have an escrow system by which you first need to make a deposit to Silk Road. Silk Road then transfers the money internally to the sellers account. The seller can withdraw this money in BTC at any time and even hedge the trade to the USD price of BTC at the time of the sale. DPR would pay any difference accounting from the volatility of BTC.
Finally, you are shipped your goods by regular mail and can go back to Silk Road and rate the seller for the experience, quality, reliability, etc.
Contributors tend to use the same pseudonym to gain a reputation and good reviews. This helps them sell more and contributors who try to scam the system are blocked out by low reviews. This exemplifies the free market environment that DPR founded the website for.
1. It is a free market and anyone can make their mark.
2. Formation of cartels is impossible and violence due to drug turf wars and drug deals are almost eliminated.
3. The privacy system was very well designed and the website ran without the authorities being able to bust it for almost 2 and a half years.
4. Silk Road provides a platform to sell goods from anywhere on the world to anywhere else (though most users were based in the US and the UK).
Most vendors who scam and provide low quality service are naturally left out of the environment. Most vendors, however, have high rating which signals a very competitive environment, with high customer satisfaction.
Silk Road was made to provide the world with an alternate and unregulated marketplace based off the concepts of libertarianism.
Contributors choose to list products. Users can choose to buy these products, and the users get their product shipped to them. They can then review the vendor and his or her services.
What would be difficult to predict is whether there would be a compromise in terms of privacy because it might be difficult for the Tor system to scale up so much.
Video profile: http://player.vimeo.com/video/106435795"Who were the founders? Matt Flannery and Jessica Jackley
When was it started? October 2005
Does it have any interesting origin story? Kiva was started by the couple Jessica Jackley and Matt Flannery. A lecture by Muhammad Yunus, the father of microfinance, was a call to tap into the power of micro lending. They spearheaded Kiva with entrepreneurs in Kenya, who struggled to get past the lack-of-captial hump. The company's name means 'unity' in Swahili.
What services does Kiva provide? They provide a service to local entrepreneurs, field partners, and individual lenders. Their 'social service' is provide entrepreneurs with a platform to accumulate funding. Kiva field partners--who can be microfinance institutions, nonprofits, schools, and social businesses--upload information about entrepreneurs onto Kiva. The field partners handle the disbursement of the funds raised on Kiva to the entrepreneur, who will pay them back with interest in time. Individual lenders are provided a simple, nearly net-zero way to support social projects--the money they contribute to entrepreneurs is paid back as Kiva credit to give to a new loan.
If this updates a previous service or business model, what does it replace? Kiva is an revolutionary add-on to typical microfinancing efforts. Not only does it organize and validate the loans disbursed by microfinance institutions, Kiva enables other organizations to become established microfinancers. This includes schools, non profits, and social enterprises, who all interface with a wealth of worthy entrepreneurs.
It 'recycles' loan money by crowdsourcing. Small donations by lenders accumulate into loans that the field partners can disburse. The entrepreneur still gets their funding, the field partner collects the same interest on the loan as usual, but the lender gets paid back in credit and the money can be reused more efficiently.
● A method of helping other people.
● A way to share their personal good fortune with others.
● A way to help an individual improve their social and economic standing.
● A window to the world, allowing a lender to become exposed to different people and cultures.
● A way to connect with, or give back to, a region where they have traveled or lived.
● A way for a lender to help an individual who shares common characteristics to themselves (age, gender, family size/structure, profession, etc.).
Additionally, Kiva often releases timed incentives such as, “Donate in the next two days and have your donation matched,” to further encourage lending activity.