GreenBook: A New Chapter in Environmental Participation

Published Aug-21-11

An interactive online green magazine concept wins crowdsourcing contest sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund and Sony.

Paul Frigout, Romania

The Story:

GreenBook: A New Chapter in Environmental Participation The crowd is a permanently loud presence. Whether we’re tweeting or emailing our opinions to newspapers, broadcasting our own footage across the web or offering advice to retailers we have something to say and the means by which to say it to a large audience. Businesses large and small have been cottoning on to this power of the crowd for some time and using its creativity to come up with new ideas or to shape a particular research focus.

Crowdsourcing is a massive shout out across the Internet and people from all over the world answer the call, seduced by the potential financial rewards and by the sheer pleasure of taking part in an intellectual exercise.

Sponsored Challenges is a relatively new kid on the open innovation block that asks the crowd to help it respond to sponsored challenges in the health, nutrition and educations sectors. These challenges are brainstormed by participants and winning solutions are developed into pilots and prototypes by the challenge host.

One of the first challenges to appear on its website came from Sony Corporation in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund. It posed the question: “How can technology help us make the most of the planet’s resources?”

Overall, hundreds of people rose to this crowdsourcing challenge and a total of 399 ideas were submitted. They re-purposed technologies and came up with new uses for them. An expert panel sifted through all the ideas to create a shortlist of eight that were viewed as having the most potential.

These were put up for the community to look at, evaluate, discuss and develop further. From this eight a final two went to the ‘top concepts’ phase to be researched and investigated in much greater detail.

Winner Announced

In January 2011 the winning submission of this crowdsourcing competition was announced - an interactive online magazine for the green community called ‘GreenBook’. Its aim is to bring volunteering and campaigning into the 21st century.

Subscribers to the magazine will receive news that is inspired to get their help with a local project. The news is distributed according to parameters that the individual has set and following each item they are presented with a number of options. They can continue reading, discuss with another member or find a local project.

Morgan David, who is the head of Sony’s Broadcast & Professional Research Labs and a member of the contest’s expert panel, said: “We chose this idea because of its huge potential to bring people together and motivate participation. We believe GreenBook will breathe new life into the age old concept of volunteering through the application of cutting edge social technology.”

Further Development

This winning concept went on to be further developed by its creator (Paul Frigout, known as ‘Sinuic’ in the digital world), Sony engineers and experts from WWF. At the time of writing this article (July 2011) the project is currently in its pre-pilot phase. Initial feedback from volunteering organizations has been positive and encouraging.

Outsourcing on Steroids

Crowdsourcing has become a game-changer, radically altering the way ideas are generated and companies are finding solutions to some of their problems. Alec Lynch, founder and CEO of Australian-based, had this to say about crowdsourcing to one interviewer:

“Crowdsourcing is outsourcing on steroids and it is disrupting traditional industries.”

The potential is there to be grasped at.

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