Trent Ostler Final Project

From Technologies of Politics and Control
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Motives of people to contribute online according to Kollock

  • Anticipated Reciprocity - A person is motivated to contribute valuable information to the group in the expectation that one will receive useful help and information in return
  • Increased Recognition - Individuals want recognition for their contributions.
  • Sense of efficacy - Individuals may contribute valuable information because the act results in a sense of efficacy, that is, a sense that they have had some effect on this environment.
  • Communion (Sense of community) - People, in general, are fairly social beings and it is motivating to many people to receive direct responses to their contributions.

Difficulty in harnessing power of the masses

  • Jay Rosen in his video of how hard it is to sustain volunteer help (Long tail).
  • Dr. Weinberger on how nebulous it is on how we're going to pay talent. (The whole discussion is interesting. He compares people who do things on the side without it being their chief financial goal [like a musician] and how that relates to online journalism. Article

The Long Tail concept relates to people's motives

Case studies of successful harnessing-the-masses endeavors

  • Mechanical Turk
  • Blogosphere and online journalism
  • Open Source software (Mozilla)
  • Collaboration websites (

Not so successful endeavors

  • Google Answers
  • AOL Community Leader Program


There is a lot more to understand about why people contribute to the web. Organizations and non-profits can harnessing the power of the masses.


Kollock, P. 1999. "The Economies of Online Cooperation: Gifts and Public Goods in Cyberspace," in Communities in Cyberspace. Article Cuban, M. Blog Maverick