Crowdsourcing in the Gaza Strip and Hollywood


In the wake of the latest violent conflict in the Gaza Strip, The Guardian put together a handy, crowdsourced map powered by Google that highlights specific areas that have been targeted by missiles in the region with a red dot. When clicked, the dot opens up a dialogue box detailing the location of the strike, as well as other information related to casualties and property damages as they become available.

The Guardian utilizes the crowdsourcing model as described by the article we read by Trebor Scholz, Cheaper by the Dozen: An Introduction to “Crowdsourcing” in which he defines crowdsourcing as “practices that were traditionally performed by one paid person but can now be more effectively executed by large numbers of people who frequently do not get paid.” He goes on to describe crowdsourcing as “mobilized in the service of liberal ideologies” and “in support of non-commercial and explicitly anti-capitalist projects.”

The Guardian often uses crowdsourcing techniques to create maps and graphs from user-submitted data, covering everything from the U.S. Presidential Election to the iPhone 5. In this specific instance, both users and news outlets work together to verify incidents and locations to create a documentary map of the 2012 Gaza-Israel Crisis. Though data and maps like these may not affect change, it certainly supports the validity of networked participatory documentation of a current developing event, especially one so violent.


However, other forms of crowdsourcing are being used for arguably capitalist pursuits. The creators of the movie Iron Sky along with other indie films use the crowdfunding site to fund their film projects, often trading user “creative input” for financial support. However, Internet film supporters make a donation in exchange for a line in the movie or a mention on the film’s IMDB site instead of actually affecting the plot or movie script. Directors pledge to shave their heads if a certain monetary goal is reached, instead of opening up the film to crowdsourced criticism. Though it is allowing independent writers and producers a more equal playing field in terms of funding in the movie industry, if they are successful they reap the same rewards as any other Hollywood endeavor–thus to some degree exploiting their fan base for money instead of ideas. Supporters only get to “like” or “not like” a script or movie endeavor instead of have a measured effect on the film’s production. In order to create a truly crowdsourced movie, such as Perry Bard’s Man With a Movie Camera (Global Remake), indie writers and directors should employ the crowdsourcing model not only for its funding abilities, but for its “networked action and co-creativity.” Though it would be difficult to comb through all of the creative suggestions for those that might actually positively affect the film’s artistic significance or even performance at the box-office, crowdsourced films that bait their funders with promises of a mention in the credits (such as Iron Sky) neither do well with critics or at the box office.

Here is a link to the Guardian article on Iron Sky:

And the Iron Sky trailer, in case you are curious about “a science fiction comedy about Nazis from the Dark Side of the Moon”

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