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Quiet Revolution: CrowdConvention 2011

Quiet Revolution: CrowdConvention 2011

The first European crowdsourcing conference brought together experts and businesses to discuss the potential for crowdsourced projects as well as the implications for the organization of work.

Just nine months after the first crowd convention in San Francisco, a second event took place June 15 for the first time on European soil. Organized by Clickworker, 150 guests gathered for a day to hear 24 speakers and to discuss the market opportunities for crowdsourcing projects in Germany.

It all started with industry guru and crowdsourcing expert Jeff Howe. He briefly touched on the origins of the concept of crowdsourcing, but focused primarily on the basic mechanisms of the model. He discussed how he was amazed every day by the dynamics of development within the various fields of crowdsourcing, noting that the current manifestations of crowdsourcing are only the tip of the iceberg. With the increasing economic importance of the model, Howe also expects growing political opposition. "The response that is coming is loud and trade unions have voices."

The second speaker of the day was Lukas Biewald, the successful founder of Crowd Flower. To date, the platform has supported more than a 100 million tasks performed. Biewald said that – contrary to popular perception- crowdsourcing is not just about cheap micro jobs. To make his point, he referred to the Netflix Prize, which distributes millions of dollars in prize money for scientific solutions. An important driver of crowdsourcing in Biewald’s view, is the need businesses have to flexibly scale resources, which cannot be produced within their own organizations.

And Michael Gebert, founder of the Marketing Society, brought the issue of quality assurance to the forefront. "The more heterogeneous the crowd, the better the result," said Gebert. 


An ensuing four-member panel, which featured Tommi Koskinnen of AudioDraft, Jasper Masemann of, Nadine Freischlad of Jovoto and Hari Holopainen of Microtask focused on a discussion on whether crowdsourcing could lead to the exploitation of workers. Holopainen took the view that there will undoubtedly be digital equivalents of the trade unions that will campaign for fair pay. 

Pia Erkinheimo, CrowdConvention 2011

The morning was wrapped up by Pia Erkinheimo. The crowdsourcing specialist from Nokia clearly illustrated how the obstacles for crowdsourcing projects in a company like Nokia must be overcome in order to become a permanent part of the development process. She firmly believes that the next Facebook will not be manufactured by businesses, but by the crowd. "The next big thing will come from us housewives.”

Exciting Projects

Crowdconvetion’s afternoon program started with founder Carl Esposti, who provided a clearer definition of the sub-disciplines in crowdsourcing, organized into seven categories. From a global perspective, he highlighted significant Crowdsourcing activity in Brazil and the Netherlands. 

Next came Ville Mietinnen of Microtask, who presented a series of case examples from Finland, where public institutions such as city libraries had already successfully implemented crowdsourcing. 

Gioacchino La Vecchia put the value of Facebook as a CRM platform for crowdsourcing into the foreground, and a crowdfunding panel consisting of Nicolas Plögert (Sharewise), Paul Dombowsky (Ideavibes), Bart Becks (Sonic Angel), Molly Ränge (Crowdculture) and Jouko Ahvenainen (Grow VC) addressed a question from the audience on how to avoid fraud and abuse. Molly Ränge answered quite succinctly: "fraud is occurring, but only one time, because the conman loses his social credit and the word gets around. "

German Ideas

The communication between client and designer was at the top of Eva Missling’s remarks. The founder of the design platform 12Designer believes this is one of the most important motivating factors. 

Mark Krause, a doctoral student at TZI University Bremen focused on the topic of crowdsourcing in the gaming industry. The labeling of images was brought up as an example of a seamless part of game mechanics. Krause, however, warned against euphoria: "The concept is only worthwhile if you have to work very large amounts of tasks."

Bobbi Augustine Sand from Sweden discussed gaming, but in a different way. Ozma Speldesign developed an SMS-based game with the idea to just build the engine and give user groups the opportunity to define the games. 

From SMS guru to Crowd Guru, Christian Vennemann’s company has transitioned. For ten years he operated a service based on SMS, where experts answered questions. This pool of experts now focuses on crowdsourcing projects.

The conclusion of the event featured a sensational speech from Stephan Bisse. He provided an overview of, an editorial platform that generates a complete technical and editorial shot of the crowd, from the article selection to the cartoon. 

After closing remarks from Wolfgang Kitza, CEO of Clickworker, the evening wrapped up on the terrace of the InterContinental leading to in-depth interviews, cool drinks, and intensive networking. The date for 2012 has already been set.

By Frank Puscher

Frank has worked as a freelance journalist for online business since 1994. He writes for all major German publications like InternetWorld Business, Internet Magazine, Page, Ct or Webselling. Additionally Puscher is managing partner of Freigeist, a Hamburg based consulting company for strategic online marketing. 

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