From funding to sourcing to co-creation: what will the crowd do next?

By Sophie Bastow-Dormon and Sara Williams

Crowdsourcing a book doesn’t seem radically different to any other group-funded project. However, Bud Caddell is not only crowdsourcing the funding of his book but also inviting his funders/supporters to contribute to the content and production. Considering that writing is a very intimate and normally solitary pursuit, this seems like it could be a risky venture. But Bud isn’t producing this book with just any crowd. He is tapping into his network…

Crowdfunding, crowdsourcing and online collaboration have been on everyone’s lips for the past year or so, but what we haven’t seen or heard a lot about is when the crowd itself actually produces the work. Specifically, when the crowd doesn’t just support the project financially but believes in it so much that they want to be a part of the production process.

Caddell’s The Bucket Brigade project is a great example of how collaborative creative processes can work. Not only is the book funded by the crowd, but it will include writing contributions from a variety of people with the skills and knowledge to make it a strong piece of work. This project is exciting because it breaks the mould as the author tackles a subject where he relies on his peers to guide him through his research.

The concept is to co-create a book on change and development in complexity sciences as they facilitate building more responsive and effective companies. It will look at the time between the first internet bubble and the still-growing social bubble. As Bud says on his blog,

“This book will be for anyone interested in creating products that are not just market exchanges, but cultural exchanges – for anyone that wants to build or reshape an organization for doing business in a world gone digital.”

Bud launched the project on Kickstarter in June and it reached its $5000 goal on within 6 days. It soon surpassed the original target and got to $18,000 in 30 days, mainly due to an overwhelming response from the social web. Over 100 people, many of them from a variety of different digital agencies, have donated $100 or more each and become part of Bud’s editorial board. These people will be even more closely involved in the research and writing processes, chipping in their own ideas for the books’ direction working through ideas, notes and case studies with Bud and each other in the project’s online workspace.

This project is certainly exciting but it won’t be without its challenges. The Bucket Brigade probably won’t go as expected but it undoubtedly will yield an interesting product and a lot of valuable insights on our industry and on how people work together in the post-crowd era. For those of us who do anything social and digital, this is one to watch.