There are many crowdsourcing projects these days. Here are two of my favorites:, a Bill Gates initiative. Gates learned that more children die of diarrhea in the third world than from any other disease ( And he understood the importance of a simple to build, use and upkeep toilet. In his case, the compensation is financial.

Another initiative is, a public-private partnership (mostly public it seems) whereby citizens “monitor the influence of climate on the phenology of plants, animals and landscapes.” In this case, people are “intrinsically motivated,” according to the Brabham article. Specifically, Brabham states that “Deci and Ryan (1985) differentiate between intrinsic and extrinsic motivators in their Self-Determination Theory (SDT). ‘‘Intrinsic motivation is defined as the doing of an activity for its inherent satisfactions rather than for some separable consequence.’’’

In my case and inspired by crowdsourcing endeavors such as these, I would propose a crowdsourcing initiative for alternative energy sources. Without a doubt global warming is decimating our planet. As the usanpn endeavor above shows, “plants, animals and landscapes” are being affected every day. Weather patterns have changed: droughts now common in places that had never experienced them. Soon, we are well on the way to creating a world without polar bears, without fish, without such things as maple syrup (granted, maple syrup pales in significance, still, quite an image having to describe to a future generation that once pancakes were eaten with maple syrup).

We have already decimated hundreds of thousands of species. Humanity is responsible for the death of “200 species every day”– Much of this from global warming, from fossil fuels. I do not think much motivation would be needed, aside from the intrinsic. I also found fascinating the quotes based on the work of Jeppesen &Lakhani and Villarroel & Reis (Brabham): “studies on marginality in problem-solving have also found that one’s relative distance from a typical problem-solving domain is significantly positively related to one’s ability to solve a problem.” I certainly have found that to be the case within corporations.

In this crowdsourcing exercise, the caption could be, “Who will save the world?” A challenge would go out to all nations, all citizens, to see who can come up with the best alternative energy idea. Governments would have to work in conjunction. Again, I don’t see that much of a problem if, in all likelihood, people like Gates, Bono, etc, would come together for the cause. It would be an idea similar to the Gates toilet idea, except on a far greater scale. And with a lot more on the line: not only the survival of other species, but perhaps our very own.


Unfortunately, I don’t know if any conclusions can be drawn from either article regarding the “future of elections, how citizens get and use information during the election process, and what possibilities are opened up by new communication technologies.” Nor how elections, politics or democracy will change, if at all. Kaufhold et al attest several things: those that partake in professional journalism are slightly better informed; “trust in media correlates with political trust”; and, interestingly, those that read traditional news over citizen news participate less in politics. Akoh et al focused on election-monitoring via, primarily, cell phone use (principally by sms as they say on the continent, or text messaging as they say in the US). Of course, I would love for citizen journalism and election monitoring using new technology to increase democracy and transparency worldwide. Sadly, I fear that the status quo remains (Africa); and that other countries are only slipping backwards (US), with moneyed interests pulling the strings.

Why I say this. I have visited on numerous occasions, for example, several of the African countries listed and know them intimately. Although it is true that every African that I met (including rural villages) had a cell phone, many of these cell phones were basic and served to make or receive short calls or text messages. Most were “pay-as-you-go” plans, and most people were without airtime. Thus, I found that the article was, how should I put this, catered for a Western audience. It is extremely rare to find truly honest and self-critical analysis emanating from that continent. Because the percentage of the population that is educated, literate, politically savvy enough to be swayed by citizen journalists—assuming the population even had access to the election process!–remains ever so minute.

Closer to home, just today I read an article, Retired NSA Analyst Proves GOP Is Stealing Elections, which didn’t leave me feeling particularly positive about the election process in the US, either—not that I was very positive after the 2000 debacle.

So: where does that leave us? In Africa, most voters watch mainstream media and mainstream media is mainly government-controlled. Whether citizen journalists monitor the elections—let’s rephrase that—whether they are even allowed to monitor the elections, will, in my view, have no effect on the elections themselves. In the US, it appears that in spite of the proliferation of citizen journalists, laws are passed every day to disenfranchise more voters. Where is the journalistic upheaval? One can, of course, as I had above, find good sources of news online. The trouble is, how many people do, and of those that do, how many are scandalized enough to want to do something about it. I am of the opinion that citizen journalism, at least when it comes to democracy or elections, will, sadly, hold little influence or sway. And I absolutely do not think in terms of credibility, citizen journalism can or even should replace mainstream journalism, and therein perhaps lies the problem.

I sincerely hope time will prove me wrong, but I am not optimistic.

The article I chose is called, “Casey Heynes, teen who attacked bully Richard Gale in YouTube video, says he just ‘snapped.’” It is based on a video of an overweight Australian boy that had been abused for years. In the video, Heynes is repeatedly hit and punched by a bully, who in turn is seemingly spurred on by another two of his friends. The bullying is also observed by a girl, presumably a fellow student, in the background. After excruciating seconds of Heynes being hit and not defending himself, he “snaps,” picks up Gale and throws him to the ground. Gale barely limps off, in visible pain.

The video went viral; international news outlets around the world featured it. I find that in many respects it is not dissimilar to the Kony video. According to Berger and Milkman, “content that evokes high-arousal positive (awe) or negative (danger or anxiety) emotions is more viral.” They go on further to state that “positive” stories go viral more often than “negative” stories.

That certainly seems the case here. Again, as in the Kony case, and in fiction parlance, this is really a simple tale of revenge (or in Kony’s case, a call for revenge). David vs. Goliath. The underdog. The victim at last taking on his tormentor. It is something everyone can associate with. We have all been in situations where we have been mistreated, perhaps even beaten up or bullied; and let’s face it, in real life, most of the time, the victim doesn’t get a chance at revenge. In this case, he did. (And how!—puts WWF to shame—might be a future there?). And of course, we all are rooting for him.

An interesting point that the authors make is that they “don’t find any significant relationship between disgust and virality” but possibly only because “the (NY) Times articles elicit little of this emotion.” One wonders how much of that is at play, not so much with this article perhaps (though a bit, too?), as the Kony video…