Archive for May, 2011

Stories of Collective Action

May 17, 2011

Who are the people who devote countless hours to editing Wikipedia, producing videos for YouTube, running community authored blogs, participating in MMORPGs, writing, photographing, playing, … and on and on … ? And why do they do it? So much time. So much effort. And for what?

Great question.

It’s the subject of my talk at the Next Conference in Berlin on May 18, 2011. (check out the video here)

These are a few stories that I think help to illuminate the discussion:

In the summer of 2004, a group of people got together on the internet and built their own system to distribute messages to over 1,000 different locations around the world within 15 seconds:
Why I Love Bees: A Case Study in Collective Intelligence Gaming (PDF)

In the October 2010, a group of people got together on the internet and raised over $250,000 for charity in a matter of weeks, and catalyzed one of the largest political rallies in the U.S. in years:
Original post on reddit.com
Stephen Colbert responds to Reddit
The results on Time.com

In May 2010, a group of people got together on the internet and saved a young woman from being kidnapped by sex traffickers:
Original post on ask.metafilter
The story on motherjones.com

In September 2010, a group of people got together on the internet and created an international campaign to support gay teens that has earned over 30 million video views:
The first video: youtu.be/7IcVyvg2Qlo
Official site: itgetsbetter.org
The story and interview on npr.org

Why do they do this stuff? Well, as Jane McGonigal says in this talk about why people play games, it’s in order to 1) accomplish satisfying work, 2) get better at something, 3) spend time with people we like, and 4) to feel part of something bigger:
newyorker.com/online/video/conference/2008/mcgonigal

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