Posted tagged ‘crowdsourcing’

Crowdsourcing a Restaurant

28, July, 2008

Fascinating story in the Washington Post yesterday [I still get the Sunday “hard copy” of the newspaper] about a Washington, D.C. group that is crowdsourcing a new restaurant.

Web 2.know-it-alls may sniff at calling this project “crowdsourcing” at all. But it’s an effort to harvest the best ideas of a group of enthusiasts and build a restaurant based on all that group input. The article claims it’s the first use of the crowdsourcing technique to build a restaurant. [I did a Google search and by that undependable measure the claim appears to be true.]

Linda Welch, 49, a serial entrepreneur, had gathered 386 Elements community members who have, the article reports, “helped develop the concept (a sustainable vegetarian/raw foods restaurant), the look (a comfortable gathering space with an open kitchen), the logo (a bouquet of colorful leaves) and even the name [Elements].”

“Most businesses are started because you have a great idea, and you take it out to the public to see if they like it,” Welch is quoted in the Post story. “This is the opposite. We’re finding out what people want and doing it.”

As for the genesis: The article continues,

“The Elements project began in February 2007 when Welch [49], who owns area several businesses in the District, purchased the business and liquor licenses of nearby Sparky’s, a coffee shop that had closed. Welch has helped launch 22 startups but has no restaurant experience. She didn’t know exactly what she planned to do with the licenses, other than open a small cafe. Around that time, Neil Takemoto, 40, another local entrepreneur who had worked with Welch, stopped by to chat. When Welch told him about her plans, Takemoto suggested crowdsourcing the restaurant.

“‘I said, ‘Great!’ ” Welch remembers. ” ‘What the hell is that?’ ‘”

Takemoto runs a business, CoolTown Studios, that helps companies use crowdsourcing and other social media techniques to support community development.

Here’s a schematic illustrating the collective developement process from the site his company created to support Elements:

The Elements project is a fascinating attempt at a proof-of-concept using “wisdom of the crowds” to build a real-life, carbon-based business from the ground up.

It’ll also be interesting to see what happens now that the effort has been publicized beyond the core group of enthusiasts and supporters. Since the article has appeared, about 30 people have signed up.

What happens to the wisdom ofthe crowds–and the value of their advice–as the crowd expands? Crowdsourcing theory says things will get better, as greater collective intelligence is tapped.

We’ll see. I, for one, am looking forward to the opening, sometime next year. Process is good. Product is vital for a restaurant.

Which is to say: I sure hope the food’s good.

2.D’oh! Weekly Round-Up: Print ‘n’ Read!

7, June, 2008

Click to Print

A key moment in Web 2.0h. . .really? history: I’ve decided to include in my weekly round-ups one story worth actually printing out on paper to read.

Every once in a while, I find an in-depth article is too long and annoying to read on the screen. It may have more lasting value than even a bookmark allows. Occasionally–occasionally!–there’s a story worth going totally retro with. Hit print. Staple. Read in bed.

[I hereby promise to plant one tree each year to offset my increased forest-products footprint. ]

This week’s Print ‘n’ Read (sm) item:

A long-form interview with John Byrne, Business Week executive editor/ editor-in-chief. A former ink-in-the-arteries guy reborn in his 50s (!) as digital evangelist, he delivers haymakers to his web-averse colleagues and has very smart things to say about how journalism–even hard-core investigative work–can flourish in a digital world.

Favorite idea from the interview: Context, not content, is king.

The interview was conducted by Chris Roush for Talk Biz News. Print out the comments too–the BizWeek vs. Forbes flamewar is an idiot’s delight.

Crowdsourcing for Fun and Profit–But Mainly Fun

A new service called Name This invites companies to have random webbists suggest names for their business, product, idea, dog, etc.

A name-seeker pays $99 for 48 hours of worldwide cogitation. Winners gets $80, distributed among the top namer and “influencers” of the final selection. The remaining $19 goes to Kluster, the company behind Name This.

But Name This is only an adequate business name–clear but not much fun. It’s almost worth spending $99 to see if the system itself can beat its own name. MoniKernels? NameTag? Handler?

And Finally, Our Weekly Sighting of the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse ™

Disqus blog proposes an online Commenters’ Bill of Rights.

The 2.D’oh! Weekly Roundup

2, May, 2008

Another week, another sniff through the last seven days of messes, miracles and muddles from the world of Web 2.0.

Crowdsourcing the VPs

Congressional Quarterly has launched a wonderfully loopy site called “VP Madness”–an NCAA-bracket-like game in which 32 potential John McCain running mates go head to head. Users vote on their preferences for each pairing. Results are tallied and the next round begins. Sweet 16, Round-of-8, Final Four…eventually the “wisdom of the crowds” will have picked a running mate for the Arizona septuagenarian.

The first round of voting ends May 6. (A Tuesday, of course.) The Democrat contest will begin…well, whenever they decide who’s on the top of the ticket.

CQ\'s VP Madness

Speaking of Doomed Efforts. . .

This week Advertising Age launched its Newspaper Death Watch feature. Its first column is a lengthy woe -is-they autopsy-from-the-hospice. It’s illustrated with this poignant graphic, showing how newspapers’ share of total ad dollars has been halved since 1980, from around 28 percent to 15 percent. (Newspapers got almost 40 percent of all ad dollars in 1940.)

Newspaper Death Watch

N.b.: Ad Age isn’t the first to perch themselves at the hospital bed. Veteran technology journalist Paul Gillen has been chronicling the decline of an old friend (of his) in his Newspaper Death Watch blog since 2007.

And finally, our Fifth-Horse-of-the-Apocalypse Headline of the Week:

MySpace launches Karaoke

from The Social Times