Wired crowdsourcing: the birth (planned?) of a meme

The projected buzz around "crowdsourcing" is growing.

The projected buzz around Wired magazine editor Jeff Howe's June piece "The Rise of Crowdsourcing" is steadily manifesting. Since it was published online this week, almost a week after the article first appeared, in print, the Wired article has:

  • been added to Wikipedia
  • been seen on techmeme.com
  • received 573 diggs at digg.com
  • been tagged at del.icio.us
  • been commented on at innumerable blogs...

And, Jeff Howe's website, crowdsourcing.com, has gone from a single page with, literally, no text, to a destination site labeled as "tracking the rise of the amateur" with a featured post: "Birth of a Meme."

The post, however, seems disingenuous, at best. Howe reminisces (already) about how a Wired colleague of his "snapped this shot off his browser," referring to a supposed screenshot of a Google search for "crowdsourcing" reportedly done on or about May 19, which purportedly returned only three hits:

One linked back to the Web site created by the illustrator on the story, James Jean. Another linked to an interview with Steve Silberman, a fellow contributing editor at the magazine. The third linked to a comment by VC Steve Jurvetson.

As I postulate in my chronicling of Wired magazine's latest strike at buzzword glory (sorry, "meme" glory), and riches, following Wired Chris Anderson's success with his long tail franchise, "Online trumps print debuts, or vice versa," and "Wired: crowds are buzzing" and "Crowdsourcing: new buzzword?", the crowdsourcing "birth of a meme" appears to be the welcome, planned arrival, from a carefully thought out gestation.

I wrote in my May 25 post "Online trumps print debuts, or vice vera":

Wired has inferred extra value on its issue debuts in print, rather than online; I  wrote about Jeff Howe’s new crowdsourcing discussion last weekend, upon receiving my June Wired print issue, retrieved by snail mail via the USPS, Howe's piece did not appear online, however, until today.

My writing online about Wired stories before they appeared online, illustrates, of course, the near impossibility of completely controlling information distribution through the various media platforms available today.

By wondering online (in my original May 20 post, "Crowdsourcing: new buzzword") if Wired writers were in the process of developing another popular buzzword on the heels of long tail phenom Chris Anderson, I may have sparked buzzword buzz.

I also wrote:

My post...was in fact reproduced shortly after I posted it, including graphic, at the Website of a company seeking to be a player in the crowdsourcing space

As I discuss, I received the print issue of June Wired in the mail on May 20; I was struck with the "coincidence" of the appearance of an article entitled "Requiem for a Meme," without mention of the most famous of Wired's memes, long tail (as I discuss in my May 20 post), along with a treatise on "crowdsourcing", so I promptly Googled "crowdsourcing"!

Contrary to the unbelievably low "3 hit" return for such a search, as presented in Howe's "Birth of a meme" post, however, Google returned, in its typical fashion, many, many, many results.

Among the results, Howe's crowdsourcing.com homepage with a notice indicating an underconstruction status, preparing for launch. I visited crowdsourcing.com, however, and a single white screen appeared with a single text graphic: "crowdsourcing, the rise of the amateur". I included the graphic in my May 20 post, with attribution to crowdsourcing.com. Howe says of the "3 hits" at Google, one was to the Web site of the designer he hired to illustrate his piece, oddly when I clicked on the link he provides now to his designer's "Web site," and navigated throughout the site, the crowdsourcing.com URL persisted.

It is also odd that the only "hits" Howe cites at his "Birth of a Meme" involve the artist hired for the crowdsourcing piece, a Wired colleague touting crowdsourcing, and a VC.

Is it a coincidence that the Wired issue, which has served to launch Howe's self-proclaimed "Birth of a Meme," feaures an article "Requiem for a Meme," or is Wired making way for their new meme? Join the conversation: "Talk Back" below to share your thoughts.

UPDATE: Jeff Howe contacted me by e-mail today, May 29, demanding a "published apology" for calling a "3-hit" Google SERP "unbelievably low." He also said "It's ironic because the number didn't leap until you published your first blog entry on crowdsourcing. You were first on the block, and I greatly appreciated your early attention."

I wish Howe had responded to my post, publicly, at his Web site, crowdsourcing.com, or in my "Talk Back" section below. Craig Newmark, Founder of Craigslist, did in fact respond to my post yesterday, "Craigslist to begin charging for NYC real estate listings and launches RSS bulk posting interface", in my "Talk Back" section, and I will be interviewing him shortly to get a first hand take on the turns Craigslist is taking. I also extend an interview invitation to Jeff Howe; I am particularly interested in Wired magazine's stragtegic thinking regarding the mode and timing of magazine issue publication, i.e., which should come first, print distribution, or online publication, issues I discuss in: "Online trumps print debuts, or vice versa"

UPDATE II: SEE "CROWDSOURCING "MEME" DEBATE

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