Wired News has an interesting article about an experiment called Assignment Zero, which is a collaboration between Wired, NewsAssignment.net, and well..ordinary folks. It's a long piece to read, and the Assignment Zero experiment adds even more detail, but it is incredibly interesting. I haven't even clicked through all the links yet, but I'm getting there.
The experiment is one in which a news story's many angles will be covered by volunteer citizen journalists, with professional editors pulling all the pieces together. The particular story being covered in this experiment is that of "crowdsourcing" or "How the Web makes it possible for the crowd to be the source of good ideas." It draws upon other open source initiatives that have come before, including open source software, sites like Wikipedia, etc., but it is attempting to see if they can use what works in those enviroments, and solve the problems that those environments have created.
You should read both the Wired article and the AssignmentZero site information to get a clear idea of what this experiment will entail. It is fairly complex, and yet simple in theory. It really gets to the heart of what the Internet has become and is still becoming. So much is changing, both online and offline (because of the changes that the online world has brought us). We interact differently than ever before. Social media isn't just del.icio.us and digg. Social media is much, much broader and its full impact hasn't yet been felt. We participate in this new social world in many ways that we don't even think about. We are simply evolving with the changes, and aren't noticing all the ramifications of that evolution.
Ten years ago, I would not have been posting on a blog, and you would not be responding to me. Twenty years ago, citizens would only occasionally have a voice in the media if they happened to write a letter to the editor, and had that letter published in their local newspaper. We did not connect with each other globally as we do now. Our world has changed dramatically over the last few years, and it continues to change at a rapid pace.
It is exciting to see where all of this may lead. We, as SEOs, marketers and web developers have a better grasp on this social media explosion than many others do. In a sense, we've been in at the grass roots level, and that grass roots campaign is reaching upwards to the Big Media level. I think we all know that once the stodgy old media boys finally understand what is happening, the rise of social media, citizen journalism, and global knowledge sharing will explode into something far bigger than we see right now.
We need to be thinking beyond the diggs and reddits of today. We need to be imagining just where all this might lead, and how we as SEOs (or Internet marketers, Global marketers, call us what you will) will position ourselves as leaders in this social future. How far ahead can you see? Where will you fit in? How can you participate in that future and profit from it? What can you contribute to it? There's a fair amount of reading in those links above, and much to think about, so I'll leave you to it.
Hope you had a Happy St. Patrick's Day.