How Long Will the Crowd Stay in Power?

March 8, 2011 By Aminda

A somewhat humorous commentary on user-generated material was posted by the U.S.’ National Public Radio. In an interview, commentator Andrei Codrescu expressed frustration with a feature on his eBook. The Kindle e-book allows readers to highlight passages and if enough people mark the same sentence, every Kindle user can see those highlights. Says Codrescu:

“I discovered that the horror doesn’t stop with the unwelcomed presence of another reader who’s defaced my new book. But it deepens with something called view popular highlights, which will tell you how many morons have underlined before so that not only you do not own the new book you paid for, the entire experience of reading is shattered by the presence of a mob that agitates inside your text like strangers in a train station. 

Not only is the e-book not yours to be with alone, it is shared at Amazon which shares with you what it knows about your reading and the readings of others. And lets you know that you are what you underline, which is only a number in a mass of popular views.”

Looming backlash?

He’s apparently not alone in questioning the power of the crowd. As Wikipedia sees a decline in volunteer editors and the Huffington Post sees suppliers withdraw, it causes at least one writer to question the sustainability free, volunteer-powered sites as the economy improves. When are internet users going to get so tired of content of questionable origins and marginal quality that they will be willing to start paying again?

Even from the perspective of a brand with a traditional business model, the question, at what point does the crowd cease to provide useful marketing information and simply become a time-consuming burden?

What do you think? Do you see foresee a decline or change in how crowdsourcing is used? Does is compromise quality? Privacy?

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