What exactly is “harnessing collective intelligence“?
The term “harnessing collective intelligence” can vary in definition from person to person, but Tim O’ Reilly gives a rock solid definition in his article on the subject saying “..applications that harness network effects, so that they become better the more people use them”. A cliche example of this would be Facebook. Facebook provides the platform for users to create their own content for the Facebook website.
Facebook allows users to upload videos, upload photos, create statuses, create polls and more which means that the more users that are on Facebook, the more content that will be posted on their website which will make it more appealing for other users to join and start posting their own content. That’s an obvious example, though. The example web 2.0 application that I want to discuss in relation to harnessing collective intelligence is the photo sharing website known as Photobucket.
What is Photobucket?
Photobucket is a photo sharing website as I just mentioned which allows users to upload photos to their profile to share with the world. It also has a built in editor for that creative side of people. Once you upload photos to your profile, you can categorise them so that others that are interested in that category of photos can see your photos and possibly even follow you for future uploads. Photobucket really does connect people and their interests through photos.
The amount of different type of photos that are uploaded to Photobucket is enormous. No matter what interests you have, Photobucket will have a vast collection of photos for your liking. For exampe, I like cars and there is a section for that on Photobucket of thousands of different photos related to cars – 481,088 to be exact (at the time of typing this). So no matter what your interest, there is bound to be photos out there uploaded by other users to fit your interests which is where Photobucket fits into harnessing collective intelligence.
How is Photobucket different from other image hosting websites?
Well there are many websites similar to Photobucket that people may have heard of. Instagram is one main and obvious example of another image hosting website. Instagram and Photobucket are very similar, but there are some differences between the two. Instagram is more connected to other social media websites such as Facebook and it is more well known than Photobucket is. Instagram has better editing software built into it and has a better mobile application. Photobucket has a better photographic community as in more professional photographers prefer to use Photobucket rather than Instagram because they don’t just take pictures of their lunch. In the end, one is just more popular than the other, but they are both very similar.
How does Photobucket fit in with harnessing collective intelligence?
Harnessing collective intelligence means that users need to add value to the website by generating content which means that the more users there are, the more content is generated which means more value is added. Users of Photobucket add value by uploading photos. The more users that are on Photobucket means that more photos are uploaded which means that more value is added to Photobucket which is exactly what harnessing collective intelligence is. There are millions of photos on Photobucket already and there a more and more being uploaded each day and more users are joining each day.
A great example of Photobucket’s users adding value to the website is that if there are more users, there is a higher chance that there are photos that you will enjoy that fit your liking. I mentioned this above, but this is just backing up the fact that Photobucket is strongly related to the subject of harnessing collective intelligence.
Photobucket is also connected with other web 2.0 applications that also make use of harnessing collective intelligence such as Facebook and Twitter which are the main websites that are linked with Photobucket. Photobucket utilises these websites by allowing users to share their photos on Facebook as well which may attract more users to sign up on Photobucket.
Photobucket’s value comes from the amount of users that are joining each day, but just uploading photos is not doing the trick. Photobucket’s value goes up from advertising during uploading and offering more storage space for users at a price. Users do not have to click the advertisement during uploading nor do they have to watch it – it’s just there in-case they are interested and it earns Photobucket that little extra bit of revenue. The storage space for free users is massive as it is, but some serious photographers would need more space than that of free users.
Photobucket users can add tags to their photos to make them easier to find or even add their photo to a category to ease the task of finding a photo but can’t categorise or tag other people’s photos. A few of the categories that photos can be uploaded into are shown above. That’s only some of the categories.