Ambitions ran high when Wired joined forces in January with new media incubator NewAssignment.net to try a novel experiment in pro-am journalism.
Our goal: Have a crowd of volunteers write the definitive report on how crowds of volunteers are upending established businesses, from software to encyclopedias and beyond.
Citizen media initiatives are a hot topic in the media, and the new project, christened Assignment Zero, was widely reported. The New York Times gave it a lengthy, if skeptical, treatment. Would the crowd prove too tough to manage, the reporter asked?
Six months later, the jury is in, and the answer is mostly yes. Although Assignment Zero produced a strong body of work, consisting of seven original essays and some 80 Q&As, the real value of the exercise was discovery. We learned a lot about how crowds come together, and what's required to organize them well. But many of the lessons came too late to help Assignment Zero.
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