Enormous Word Warning: Disintermediation
I’m no economist, but any word that begins with “disinter” can’t be a good thing. Mediation sounds harmless enough; almost soothing – but combined, its disposition is ruined.
Yet, cutting out the middleman sounds more pleasing unless – of course – you’re the middle man. Cheaper and faster is the result of the missing middle, although whatever value intrinsic to the middle is wiped out with its extraction.
Not so in the case of “Open Source”. Open source is a form of development that promotes shared access to the product’s source materials. Like a never-ending beta test -apart from the agreement that any enhancements are, in return, shared without compensation – Open Source is ceaselessly creative and occasionally innovative. Designs are mutually beneficial to a virtual crowd with shared interests giving them the opportunity of equal benefit. A score passed along a musical chain would be a good example or – more conspicuously – there is Linux code [yawn].
We can also source a community by holding an “open call” [notice the opportunity for confusion through the word “open”] much like the organizers of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair did through a contest for design submissions that lead to an iconic structure to compete with the Eiffel Tower. The winning innovative design – by the way – was submitted by George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. and the stakes were high; much more than the average compensation for the winner of a CrowdSpring contest for example.
Anytime an opportunist can pocket some change, exploitation is an enduring prospect. Exploitation is a shell game; a game that typically relocates money from one pocket to another with little or no value-add – they are disinnovative. While not entirely useless [occasionally entertaining], exploitation games can sure piss some people off.
You disinnovate by making something look innovative when – in fact – it merely reframes processes, economic dominance, or both without adding value; much like I’m doing by swapping unnovate with disinnovate as a coined phrase thus reassigning title from Umair Haque to me. Others might disinnovate with an open call for a logo design at $400. No innovation here just a shifting of profit from the logo designer to the solicitor; a shell game.
“We have established what you are, madam. We are now merely haggling over the price.” – a punch line commonly attributed to George Bernard Shaw, also conjures the worst of the worst of Crowdsourcing and its disinnovative result that causes much venom spewing by creative professionals. Nearly all tools can be constructive or destructive, yet the old rules still apply: “there’s a right tool for every job” and “you get what you pay for.”
Engage a crowd so they can influence a brand or participate in the development of products they want to buy – while not uniquely innovative – is inclusive in a variety that benefits everyone. A sure fire way of creating brand advocates is to get a community vested in its development; it’s a relationship much stronger than what conventional advertising will ever deliver.
Creativity is principally the domain of an individual enhanced by great relationships, but just as a properly harnessed horse team can pull harder, the right creative team can produce more consistently powerful messages. That said, teamwork isn’t what crowdsourcing stimulates. Consequently, don’t expect a creative product superior to that which you’d get from a reputable individual or strong creative team. Fluffy the cat will probably fetch your morning paper more often.
Conversely, “Open Source” not Crowdsourcing is the resource for absorbing virtual communities in teamwork. Their motivation is different; It’s less competitive and collectively engaged in a superior more productive solution. Open Source is much more likely to produce innovative, not disinnovative, results. - Bruce DeBoer
In the attached video are two enthusiastic Crowdsourcing advocates. John Winsor – seated to the right [camera left] of Edward Boches – recently cofounded Victors and Spoils that lays claim as The world’s first creative (ad) agency built on crowdsourcing principles. What that means exactly and how far they can leverage a potentially disinnovative idea, we’ll have to wait and see. If brand awareness is a green signal for success, they’ve got a solid start.
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