Platform Future

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This milestone is focused on two inter-related concepts, the future of the platform and the logistics of the platform.


In reflecting upon where we are as a platform and where we could/should go some re-occuring themes presented themselves. This adventure began as an exploratory note into understanding the trust and power dynamics that inhabit the relations between workers and requestors. More than a reaction to the dysfunction of MTurk, understanding and grasping the undercurrent of power and trust upon the execution and implementation of ideas/tasks is a heady idea that will greatly inform the narrative on the “new Way of Work’. It is an investigative journey that is still underway and as a foundational idea should be matured.


There are still many foundational issues, ideas and concepts that should be addressed, investigated and experimented with regardless of which direction the platform takes (Experiment, Enterprise or Experiment and Enterprise…I trend to the later). The cultural determinants of mutual trust and symmetrical distribution/balance of power have still to be defined; the pathways from robust and rigorous debate to bias for action are still allusive, managing the conundrum of good ideas and popular ideas in a democracy; how does one encourage purposeful self-directed individual behavior within a community without being overbearing; transparency versus privacy is still a vexing undertaking and there are still many fascinating ideas to explore. The point is that the future is now.


The experiment of crowdsourcing is still raw, exciting and crucial to evolve a platform that is fair, equitable and transformative to all parties. As such I propose the following be executed over the next 2 three month cycles:

  1. Elect a Leadership Board(LB) that can lead the Platform. As we are still in a transformative phase, a flexible representative ratio of platform, workers, requesters, researchers should be determined…With that, we should consider not using the ratio until after the prototype is built. We should continue to embrace using elections/participatory democracy to both elect the LB and engage the crowd to provide ideas and suggestions the LB should act upon. However the LB should be seen as the executive in a democracy; empowered to make decisions. To reaffirm that commitment, we should fold RA full/part time positions into the leadership Board (See Organizational Framework below for details). The objective of the LB should be defined to establish the procedures, practices and policies of governance, platform operation and direction. Within the first 3 month election cycle the LB should create a constitution, an election calendar and a project delivery/research schedule with assigned DRI’s for the platform. The delivery schedule will be biased towards having a platform prototype available to capitalize on post UIST conference buzz. A sampling of the foundational items on the delivery calendar: Reputation (Internal/External), Pricing, UX, Skills Matrix. The LB will coordinate the efforts between experiment and enterprise listed below. The initial tenure of elected LB members should be three months, but as we move to a more stable environment, tenure should extend to six months.
  2. Organizational Framework. The platform should embrace and support both research/experimentation and enterprise. As mentioned above there are many critical operational and technical items to be discussed and addressed and should be pursued in tandem with a go to market strategy. Once an enterprise, the research continues as a form of internal think tank and innovation engine. Structure: The Leaders of the Research and Enterprise teams are RA/Full time people. Advisory boards can be formed via election/appointment under each. Both leaders will be part of the Leadership Board. The LB sets general direction as stated above as well as coordinating efforts between enterprise and experiment. The rest of the LB (5 positions) will be filled via election as per a ratio/equation of platform/workers/requestors.
  3. Funding proposition. Initially we should fund up to 10 full/part time RA slots to provide stability, guidance and expertise to the platform. That should provide the leadership the platform needs until we can arrive at a non VC funding proposition that will allow for a continued relationship with Stanford as well as the flexibility needed to rapidly move a prototype to market.
  4. It’s time to define ourselves in a mission statement. After the LB erects the policy, procedure and best practices around the platforms functionality; their first order of business should be to craft a Mission Statement. What we stand for, what we hope to accomplish, our values, dreams, hopes. We need to be honest and authentic with who we are as a platform and what our intentions are. It is the foundation upon which we can pour our soul into. Capturing the culture, our purpose and our design will aid recruiting of workers and platform staff, position us in the market, align with requestors and assist with funding efforts.
  5. Embrace the Experiment of Crowdresearch. There are many critical conversations to be conducted about crowd research. We should be defining those technical, organizational, operational, data and communication challenges and construct experiments to observe, measure and ultimately solve them. Culturally there needs to be less linking and more thinking.
    1. Improve our data management practices, so we can actively engage and build upon archival platform work/milestones as well as bring more academic/research rigor to our narrative. A full time librarian/curator should be on staff to shepherd conversation, assist in research and managing data. With that, new technology is needed to improve collaboration and data collection. Slack should remain as a communication tool, but more specific collaborative tools need to be deployed in parallel.

The result of focusing on these constructs is a purposeful, self directed organization that can support experimentation and enterprise activity in parallel.