Posted by: Tony Carson | 14 September, 2007

Public appeals and the blogging effect

Have you noticed that you’re being asked for your ideas more often these days than ever before?

I’m thinking it’s the Blogging Effect, the realization that just as the best thoughts and information aren’t necessarily inspired in news rooms and think tanks so it is that not all the best ideas and inventions come from the boardrooms and laboratories in corporate megaliths. There is an enormous pool of talent out there.

Case in point: the US military is looking to you to come up with a wearable battery, and will give you $1 million for your trouble.

“We’re trying to tap into the American public’s ingenuity,” said Army Lt. Col. Brian Maka, a Pentagon spokesman(Pentagon revs up drive for wearable power). “We hope the cash award will attract lots of interest and some great new ideas.”

The Defense Department is seeking a prototype system that can be attached to a vest to produce an average of 20 watts for four full days. All components, including the power generator, electrical storage, control electronics, connectors and fuel must weigh 8.8 pounds (4 kg) or less. The military needs the power to run such portable gear as radios, night vision goggles and satellite-navigation tools all of which require power.

Where once this might have been a closed contract request to a main player in the military industrial complex, now it seems to be open to all comers and is easily tendered through the internet.

Is this a paradigm shift? You bet it is and it’s the most exciting new trend to ever hit the closed, smug world of business … well, ever since they let in women.

Wouldn’t it be great if some basement tinkerer in a skirt won the competition? Those pictures of the grinning do-nothings in bowling-shirts who lucked into a lottery have become so friggin’ tiresome. The concept of publicly awarding talent? Wow.

That would be to America what marrying above your class once was to Britain: Egalitarian progress, aka the Blogging Effect.

What another example? Go here: Google sponsors moon landing prize



  1. Sorry to appear a pessimist again, but i am somewhat skeptical about the “paradigm shift”. There is indeed “an enormous pool of talent out there”, but can it be accessed through blogs or other so called “web 2.0” media is a big question.

    As an illustration here is a link to recent Pew Report about internet use in the US. It shows that only “8% are avid participants in all that digital life has to offer” or in other words are actively creating content.

    What i am trying to say is that most of that “enormous pool of talent” is still untapped. So I think it is still too early to talk about a “paradigm shift” or far reaching “blogging effect”. The entire idea of web 2.0 is based on marketing and has been rather successful in moving the industry forward. The question is if it did not create another bubble (bubble 2.0?) on the way?

    It would be interesting to see who would actually win the competition. It may well be a “basement tinkerer in a skirt”, but what if it will be an MIT lab? That is not to say that even if the idea will come from the basement, it will the US military (again) developing and paying for it.

  2. But why the pessimism? Why not optimism? Sure, the ‘shift’ isn’t yet full-blown but the inertia has been broken: the internet really is being used to get into the great ill-defined talent pool.

    The above is an example as is a post today on Blackwater where the BBC solicited input from Blackwater employees.

    No, I’m betting that as web 2 becomes more seamlessly integrated into the online experience the degree of interactiveness will ascend and triumphantly create opportunities like never before.

    But the key here is seamless for the reason you stated: too few (like me) are active participants in the digital life.

    But, hey, you’re a bright guy up on this stuff: develop your point: you seem to have little faith in Web 2 as a panacea to hightened interactivity. Why? And what do you mean by the bubble?

  3. You are the second person telling me that i should develop the point 🙂 I probably should. And i will.

    In the meantime, I’d try to clarify the point i am making above. I don’t think that technological abilities alone can cause substantial change. The society where those technologies “live” has to put them in certain use in order to create that change. Having internet with all the old-new abilities to create content, will not cause people to that and that is for a variety of reasons. There must be additional processes taking place in parallel with development of technology that will allow that “pool of talent” to flourish. In the meantime i see the technology rushing forward, while the society at large is lagging behind. Maybe this is where i see the creation of a bubble, just as it happened a decade ago. But you are right, i should develop my point better 🙂

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