Style / February 7, 2014

Wine Sisterhood is in a Crowdsourcing Book?

If you’ve spent any time with the Wine Sisterhood, you know that occasionally we ask you questions (via our surveys) about wine–which ones you like, which ones you’d like to see us make, which labels catch you eye and so forth. Your input gives us direction on what we do next in terms of making the wines that women really want to drink, revising our labels to make them more compelling or picking athe wine name you like best.

You may not know that there is a term for what we do–and it’s called “crowdsourcing”. For those of you who love wine (like us) but are relative digital newbies (like us) there’s a brand new book that explains the process which many companies, groups, artists, individuals and organizations are using to help inform their decisions, communicate with one another and get things done.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Crowdsourcing by Aliza Sherman, our personal digital diva, has recognized the way we reach out to women for input and feedback on our wine branding. We’ve made our family of Wine Sisters onFacebook and Twitter an integral part of our brand and product development cycle. We have produced wines with names and label designs developed with YOUR direct input.

What the heck is Crowdsourcing?

Crowdsourcing is a fairly new way to get things done. Wired magazine writer Jeff Howe coined the term “crowdsourcing” in 2006. He explained crowdsourcing as a process of participation and collaboration online usually starts with an open call to an online “crowd” or community. Simply put, because of the Internet and our ability to reach many people, we can get things done in new ways. We can also build websites and online tools that help manage the entire process, from putting out the open call to keeping track of the responses.

In her book, Aliza divides crowdsourcing into three main areas: work, input and action.

Work is something that needs to be done and usually involves someone getting paid for the work. You can crowdsource transcription and use a company like Castingwords to manage transcribers for your project. You can crowdsource translation and use a site like MyGengo to get things translated by a community of native speakers, linguists, professors, even language enthusiasts. Need to beta test your new website or a software product? uTest has a community of programmers and beta testers who can tackle the job. Have some busy work that consists of tasks that can be performed online? Check out Crowdflower to see if their crowd community can help.

Input can involve getting feedback, brainstorming ideas, asking and getting answers from many people or even competing in a contest – sometimes called an “innovation challenge” – to win a prize by coming up with a solution for a problem. In the case of Wine Sisterhood, we used Zoomerang surveys to track the votes from women regarding everything from a wine label design change for Red Haute wine to the name of a new wine (Goody Two-Shoes, a pinot noir). Some examples of innovation include coming up with new product ideas such as the creative community on Quirky or the designers coming up with new tshirt art on Threadless. You can also get answers to your questions through sites like Quora or Honestly Now.

Action in crowdsourcing means getting many people to work toward a common goal. You may have heard of crowdfunding and using social network connections to distribute information about a fundraising project. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are two great sites for turning to your crowd and their connections for funding everything from self-publishing a book, making a film, putting on a performance, even developing a product prototype. Some good things are being done worldwide with crowdsourcing include sites like SeeClickFix and a variety of mobile apps that let local residents in cities report issues such as potholes or graffiti. The information is routed to city agencies that can help resolve the issues. Another example of how crowds can contribute to the greater good is the work carried out by Ushahidi to help compile information from people during a natural disaster or crisis. During the Haiti earthquake, for example, programmers came together and developed a software program to take information pinpointing where help was needed from people on the ground and contributed through their mobile phones along with their GPS locations. The software generated maps for rescue teams so the “crowd” contributed to better data for more efficient rescue efforts.

You can find out more about crowdsourcing through sites like The Daily Crowdsource and Crowdsourcing.org. And remember to pick up your copy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Crowdsourcing!

Thank you to Aliza Sherman for contributing the information for this post.

Photo by Richard Finkelstein

Top image: StockXchng

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