Image via WikipediaHere's something I think is worth sharing. It came to me (and therefore to you) by a tortuous route, I found the link on a comment to an article on Australian marketing uber-blog, Mumbrella (sorry Tim, can't be arsed with the caps and things). But that's how the Internet works, no?
It's the story of how the UK's Guardian newspaper crowdsourced a complex data mining job, using its online readers to help it sift through hundreds of thousands of pages of public records. By making the whole exercise accessible and enjoyable to the public, The Guardian effectively managed to arrange for something like 35,000 people to help intelligently sift through over 170,000 pages of public records unearthed by the great Commons Expenses Scandal. The result was that The Guardian managed to comb 170,000 pages of data in 80 hours, extracting the valuable stuff for its journalists to work on.
It's here. The site, Harvard's Nieman Journalism Lab, is a must-add for your RSS feed if you have any interest at all in the evolution of journalism in the digital age.
I love this case study because it's a really smart application of technology in the spirit of the IBM PC and the Toyota MR2 (two of my favourite things, both originally cobbled together by inspired innovators on shoestring budgets raiding their companies' parts bins). I love it because it's a witty and smart piece of journalistic initiative.
But most of all, I love it because it shows how much more powerful you are when you enlist the help of your customers in the development of your product - which means respecting your customer enough to believe they are worthy enough to begin to possibly understand the arcane intricacies of your unique and difficult profession. Calling for feedback, input, insight or participation from a wider commuinty extends your reach beyond your own organisation's staffing capabilities and brings a wider range of heads to a problem - sometimes solutions to a problem can come marvellously quickly from the uninvolved. It has the potential to broaden your capability to innovate, creates a stronger sense of connection and ownership from customers and folds marketing neatly into product development.
The article on Mumbrella was, incidentally, this one, where News Ltd's editorial director is being a goof about Twitter.