We Need An Army of Digitial Anthropologists


So odd that I am sitting here in the Apple store, surrounded by all this technology, in what is turning out to be a great public knowledge event with Sara Beckman from UCB’s Haas Business School. She focuses on design and innovation management which is a very interesting topic for me. UsingBlue Ocean Strategy as a reference as well as some research from NPD, there is a somewhat obvious correlation between the level of innovation and the spending on design. But that discounts the primary driving cause of the problem in favor of supporting a preferential argument – what is really at the core of that issue is an avoidance of risk and a desire for security. In essence, the belief of key leaders that the market is contracting rather than expanding and/or that the market is generally mature rather than young. ie, that there will never be another Mulit-Billion Dollar software company again…

While the content is sharp and mostly insightful, I am most transfixed with the idea of this overflow crowd (I am sitting against the wall with about 20 other people) and the fact that this sort of amazing opportunity is happening over and over again and not being captured, even though we have the technology available to us. What is missing is an organizational structure of freelance resources – or perhaps as I reference them more often, an army of digital anthropoligists. I was joking with Eddie the other day that we should launch a sister ‘station’ to GETV and call it Geek Education TV – but perhaps that is something we should really do instead of joke about. All the creatives out there could band together to make a true freelance network of vloggers/podcasters who go out into the world to record and produce content that can then be stored, shared, tagged and made more easily discoverable.

I suppose this is what Current TV was trying to do but really has failed miserably at. That is simply because they cared more about the ‘system’ they were creating than the people creating value within it – in short, they see the evolution of the Web and media, but they just don’t ‘get it’.

Regardless, maybe BrainJams could partner with Creative Commons and OurMedia to establish a co-operative of content contributors. It certainly is directly needed by the unconference community, and seemingly by the world in general. Dan Farber was reporting on this earlier today from Esther’s Conference in regards to the long way search has to go – recruiting, motivating, supporting and organizing an army of digital anthropologists would go a long way to solving the problem they speak of…

    PC Forum: Searching the dark matter and users by ZDNet‘s Dan Farber — Esther started off the PC Forum panel with search stars, by saying the search is getting boring and has peaked to get some reaction. They all properly disagreed and the discussion focused on the amount of information that isn’t indexed or searchable. Rich Barton, CEO of Zillow (the hot real estate search service) and former CEO of […]

Dan reported that Jeff Weiner from Yahoo estimated that .0058 percent of world’s knowledge is actually indexed. This is exactly what I have been talking about for the last 4+ years with regards to The Noble Pursuit, that we can and we should take steps to start collecting and collectively cataloging what they reference as “the dark matter” that is not digitally and publicly accessible to search. But rather than seeing it as a technology problem vis-a-vis ‘Search’, I see it as a human matter. It was very good to see that most of the panelists were looking in the same direction. Of course, Yahoo! is really the leader in this regards now with their acquisition of delicious.

This idea is different from the Bayosphere and NowPublic though, but really does leverage Terry Heaton’s ideas about Video Journalists. They are seeking reporters to cover ‘news’ – we are talking about bringing together A/V Creatives who want to capture long format open knowledge exchanges such as the ones we do with BrainJams and the one I just participated in at the Apple Store and simply upload a digital video/audio file to the Archive for everyone to remix – and of course for them to remix/produce themselves.

If anyone else out there is interested in this, please let me know as I have many deeper thoughts and strategies for how this can be accomplsihed. It would be a great use of our time to get this going.

APPROX 12 Hours Later: Just as I went to make final edits to this post, I see this post from SiliconBeat that Podtech raised $5.5 Million to “become the NPR of podcasting”. Wonder how much this fits in with my idea of an army of digital anthropologists discussed above? You can read the official PodTech Press Release and decide for yourself. To me it seems that this is a network media play pure and simple just as with PodShow and Odeo, but perhaps more focused on Technology. We will have to wait and see what real “Blue Ocean Strategy” and innovations are really happening here.


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