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Digital Cowboys: A whole new way of crowdsourcing

Ever had a great idea for a website that you really wanted to share with the world? How about using the power of the social web to attract popular artists to perform at local venues? This idea from Will Gubb, called Rock Me, was adopted at October’s Digital Cowboys gathering, a crowdsourcing initiative started by the digital marketing specialists at AD:DYNAMO.

This monthly creative initiative is changing the way people think about collaboration and web development. The concept behind Digital Cowboys is pretty simple. A group of like-minded individuals meet at a restaurant and everyone gets sixty seconds in which to punt an idea for a new digital property. The site must be for both web and mobile and able to generate large amounts of traffic.

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After everyone has pitched their ideas, the crowd votes on what they think is most feasible and the digital cowboys agree to build the site in a month, on the understanding that the revenue generated from the site pays for the next meeting and the drinks.

The concept of crowdsourcing is fairly well known these days and has become rather fashionable. What sets Digital Cowboys apart is the fact that there is no gain involved for either the “crowd” or the “sourcers”, apart from the kudos of being credited as a co-creator of a website. Digital Cowboys is just for fun, no monetary gain, no real fame, just the chance to help create something cool.

Here are some of the suggestions from the last meeting:

  • A booking portal that would bring together sports enthusiasts so that they could organise group events.
  • An events based network that would allow users to see what events are happening on any given day in their area.
  • An adult social network that would help you plan extra marital affairs. Users could get tips on the best and most inconspicuous places to meet to hook up anonymously, and find out where the best places are to pick someone up. Possible partnerships could be created with restaurants, bars and hotels for discounts and afternoon specials.

Rock Me, the winning idea at the most recent Digital Cowboys offers the public the opportunity to fill venues like the under-utilised Cape Town Stadium with their choice of musicians and artists. So instead of going to the artists, the public gets to vote, interact, and build enough momentum to attract leading artists to the venues the public choose.

The site is in beta right now, and is set to go live on the 13th of November. It might prove quite popular since there isn’t anything else like it in South Africa at the moment.

If I had to put forward a criticism, I would say that while most of the ideas were very creative, they weren’t always entirely original. In many cases, the ideas that came up were already being implemented somewhere on the web in a better way, or implemented poorly, yet there already.

However, and this is the best part of a Digital Cowboys event, there are connected, intelligent people present giving great feedback. You do not have to waste time thinking of an idea, putting time and money into it only to find out what people don’t like about it after the fact.

Digital Cowboys is a fun, monthly collaborative effort that ends up on the web, and it offers everyone the opportunity to participate in the process of conceptualisation and creation of a web and mobile offering.

It could serve as a global crowdsourcing model, where people brainstorm, learn from each other, air their views, and watch an idea grow into something with real potential.

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