Open Insights 30 – Crowdsourcing

OPEN INSIGHTS Newsletter
Issue 30 – Crowdsourcing
April 1, 2007

by Sean Hull

Founder and Senior Consultant
Heavyweight Internet Group

Welcome back to our Open Insights newsletter. Our readership is now north of 3000 subscribers and growing everyday. Thanks to everyone for your support and for forwarding us on to friends and colleagues!

Reading from your blackberry or other handheld device? We’ve made some formatting changes which we hope improve the appearance on mobile devices. Let us know if you have any suggestions or comments.


In This Issue:

1. Feature:Crowdsourcing

2. Upcoming Speaking Engagements

3. New Articles
4. Audio Interviews
5. Current Reading
6. Lightweight Humor

7. Miscellaneous

8. Past Issues
9. Technical Articles
10. About Heavyweight Internet Group


1. Feature: Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing, there’s that word again, source. Open-source, out-source, source-code. The idea behind crowdsourcing is for a company to capitalize on a vast network of internet workers where ordinarily they might rely on a small group of dedicated individuals. The internet makes this possible, as it is decentralized, and pervasive. Crowdsourcing is different than open-sourced projects, because everyone doesn’t benefit from the results of that work.

Wikipedia – Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing can allow innovation, and encourage solutions to problems previously difficult to solve. Take Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, where internet legions are encouraged to perform tasks much better solved by people than computers. In return, “turk workers” are reimbursed small amounts depending on the task. Bezos, Amazon’s founder, is also investing in ChaCha which is dubbed “human assisted” search.

So blogs, and sites like wikipedia then, would not really be crowdsourcing per se, because everyone gets to enjoy and benefit from the end product. A recent NYTimes article mentions two main objections. First, like wikipedia, harnessing the knowledge of crowds means you’re only as good as the smartest member. The other objection leveled against crowdsourcing likens the idea to a virtual internet based sweatshop. Though certainly companies like Amazon hold the strings with services like mturk, it seems to share little of the more nefarious qualities of a real sweatshop. Then again, how long until turk workers start putting together a unions?


Another very flatening (to use Tom Friedman’s term) aspect of crowdsourcing is in it’s ability to turn a once scarce resource into a commodity. Some would argue this is happening with stock photography, and even progamming with sites like Rent-a-coder.


For more info, see this Wired News article.

2. Upcoming Speaking Engagements


April 15th, Collaborate 2007 – Las Vegas Nevada


in bed with Oracle – Lifting The Covers On Database Creation

Database creation, because of better GUI tools, has become a more & more overlooked area of Oracle. We pull back the covers, revealing what Oracle is doing at each stage. Why do we have startup nomount, mount, restrict, and open? What OS resources is Oracle using at each step? How do we issue CREATE DATABASE? What is the simplest init.ora file? How many file descriptors does Oracle use and why? From conception to birth, our microscope will reveal the secrets.

3. New Articles

Oracle 10g RAC versus DataGuard for High Availability

4. Audio Interviews

This month we have the opportunity to talk with Norman Yamada CTO of Millburn Corporation.

Norman shares with us his experiences providing world-class computing solutions, and the pros and cons of doing it with open source.

5. Current Reading

Tangram Puzzles – Chris Crawford

The mind is a muscle, and like any other, it needs to be exercised. If thinking outside the box has got you hitting a wall, the Tangram puzzle, also known as the seven-board, will surely help you. These puzzles are a constant challenge, pushing you to think in spatial, unconventional and creative ways.


Number Freaking by Gary Rimmer

Asking funny and surprising questions about numbers, this book puts a new perspective on statistics, and numerical thinking.


Firing Back by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and Andrew Ward

Those who succeed have fall down often enough. But what separates them is that time after time, they get back up to fight again. This book is full of real-life stories of leaders of industry who crashed and burned, and then turned around and rebuilt their careers.


6. Lightweight Humor

Visit Gaping Void’s funny entry:

Fake Walmart Blog.

7. Miscellaneous


Improve Body Language:


Presentation Zen – Lessig Method


Dick Hardt’s famous Identity 2.0 presentation

8. Past Issues

Issue 28: High Availability

Issue 27: Fragile Foundations

Issue 26: Logistical Fitness

Issue 25: Which Red Button
Issue 24: Consulting Conflicts of Interest
Issue 23: Devil In The Details
Issue 22: Beware of Software Fashion
Issue 21: Open Season, Open Sesame?
Issue 20: Better Web Better Business
Archive: Past Issues

9. Technical Articles

Oracle DBA Interview: click here
Tools for the Intrepid DBA: click here
Oracle9i + RAC on Linux/Firewire: click here
Migrating MySQL to Oracle: click here
MySQL Disaster Recovery: click here

10. About Heavyweight Internet Group

In a nutshell, Oracle. Everything related to and surrounding the database technology we specialize in, but specifically setup, admin and tuning of Oracle technology. I have 10 years experience with Oracle, wrote a book on the technology, and write and lecture frequently. I’m founder and senior consultant of the company. In capacities where your company might hire Deloitte, AIG, or Oracle Consulting we can bring the same level of service and experience, at about half the price. Simple equation.

Looking for top-flight a DBA? Visit us on the web at iheavy.com.