Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Week 2: Empowering the customer, part 1

Well, as opposed to last week, I'm fairly optimistic I'm going to get through all of the materials, which is good because I'm hoping to catch up on some of the videos from last week that I wanted to check out but haven't had the chance yet.

One comment on the crowdsourcing chapter: I found it very interesting, but as a fan of horseracing the notion of a bunch of strangers coming together to solve a difficult problem is not new to me. In case you're not familiar with it, the odds the track pays are a function of the bets the fans place and, while the outcome of any one race may seem random, over time it's remarkable how accurate the consensus predictions actually are (e.g., a horse bet to 2-1 odds will end up winning 33% of the time).

It's pretty amazing when you think about it, particularly when you see that the individual bettors are know-nothings like me and that most are lucky to get out of there with train fare. As a group, though, we collectively compute the likelihood of the myriad bets paying off with an extreme precision that would leave Big Blue scratching it's silicon brow.

What is curious about crowdsourcing to me is people's willingness to accept such little dough for their work, particularly when other people stand to gain so much from it. Case in point - threadless.com - - two grand and a coupon? Are you kidding me? The two Jakes are not doing good things for the rest of us Jakes' reputations! Netflix, meanwhile, looked generous putting up $1MM for their big prize, but look at how many people have to share it! Tom Sawyer has a fence that needs painting, if anyone's interested....

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