Were you ever looking for this great fair trade sweetshop in Amsterdam? Conscious Me is a new social platform that lets its members share tips about greening your life and post new ideas that matter to a more sustainable world.
The term crowdsourcing first mentioned by Jeff Howe (2006), is based on the notion of institutions using collective intelligence of a large network of people to create value and develop new products and services. However, some people believed that crowdsourcing can also have another dimension and can be used in the sense of harnessing the collective knowledge or ‘consciousness’ of people, to create a better world.
This has recently led to the creation of the online community Conscious Me (Bateman et al., 2011). The founders of this community shared the idea that people should have a place where they could inspire each other for a more conscious way of living. The Conscious Me community is based on the existance of information asymmetry, where the party that is in need for information should be combined with the people that have the required problem-solving capabilities (Hippel, 2005). To this end, a social platform and virtual pinbord was created that allows members to share conscious products, places, people, technologies, etc.
How the platform works is that if you have a cool idea ‘that matters’ you go to the website, write a description of what you want to share and you upload it to the platform. Other members can find your post, by searching the list of posts or by using a map that helps you to find local tips. The community is based on voting by using the ‘IT MATTERS’ button, which members can use to show they believe that someone’s contribution to the platform is important (Malone, 2010). So, next time if you’re looking for greening-up your life, you type in your location and ideas should immediately pop-up in your screen!
The platform adheres to the important building blocks defined by Malone (et. al, 2010) for a powerful system (what, who, why, how) that can be used to harness collective knowledge. But they are not there yet, since the (Beta) version of Conscious Me really started just a few weeks ago and is in desperate need for new community members and ideas that matter (Amsterdam has only one…). The question is, will they show up and will the website really result in this community of involved people that are looking for sustaining their life? Since the success of an online community is highly dependent on having community members that are willing to invest their time and attention (Bateman et al, 2011). My feeling is that the Conscious Me community may have potential, as it does not exist yet and adheres to many success indicators of member commitment to a community. Not only because of the community itself, but also because of the ‘raison d’etre’ of the Conscious Me community (A more sustainable world). I’m talking about motivators such as gaining insights into others’ beliefs and opinions, developing a more positive self-image, the option to contribute to collective goals (and this is certainly a collective goal!), altruism and empathy (Bateman et al, 2011).
An important point of attention for this community is how to overcome that the website ends up being a marketing website, used by companies voting for their own products. This may tear down the feeling of being a community, which is the backbone of the platform. Another potential problem might appear with regard to the voting function, that could require a more innovative design (Majchrzak et al, 2013). Currently there is a high chance that the things visited the most, will ‘matter’ the most, while this can also be caused by the easiness to experience the idea adviced. The unfortunate result will be that some really great opportunities that are not situated in the center of a big city will be overlooked…
In general I think that being a member of this community can help you experiencing cool and sustainable things that are too great for not being shared with others.
Are you ready for greening-up your life?
Want to know more about crowd-sourcing, online communities and other concepts used in this blog? These are the references I used as inspiration:
- Bateman, P. J., Gray, P. H., & Butler, B. S. (2011). Research Note-The Impact of Community Commitment on Participation in Online Communities. Information Systems Research, 22(4), 841-854.
- Howe, J. (2006). The rise of crowdsourcing. Wired magazine, 14(6), 1-4.
- Howe, Jeff (June 2, 2006). “Crowdsourcing: A Definition”. Crowdsourcing Blog
- Majchrzak, A., & Malhotra, A. (2013). Towards an information systems perspective and research agenda on crowdsourcing for innovation. The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 22(4), 257-268.
- Malone, T. W., Laubacher, R., & Dellarocas, C. (2010). The collective intelligence genome. IEEE Engineering Management Review, 38(3), 38.
- Von Hippel, E. (2005). Democratizing innovation. MIT press.