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Snooping around AssignmentZero.net

I have not had time to join in the fun at Newassignment.net’s first project at ZeroAssignment.net. The topic is crowdsourcing. Looking at the site is kind of like the web itself. There is some logic there, but it also seems on the verge of spinning out of control. It’s the latter that makes is so interesting to just poke around.

It will be interesting to see how they distill all the information into coherent articles, but on the other hand it hardly matters. Just reading the bits and pieces here and there is an education. There are familiar faces lining up to help like Will Richardson, education blogger supreme. There are professional editors and writers, some working for newspapers. There are people like eian more who says, “I stay awake for two days and then sleep for three.” In all they say more than 650 have joined the project.

There is amusing, telling stuff. Like when the site’s Director of Verification, Craig Silverman offers the site two articles he wrote, including one for The York Times. Then someone points out that even though he wrote it, he might not have the right to post it. It gets even more amusing; the article’s title: Giving a voice to the public domain.

When moving around at the site, I kept getting lost. There are lots of nooks and crannies. Any how, even from all of this raw material you will learn a lot of what is happening in the crowdsourcing world. Indeed, you might even be able to get a jump on the Wired article by spinning out a few of your own. However, you run the risk of not being able to verify stuff. That’s where Silverman’s verification apparently comes in and the word from Lauren Sandler, Assignment Zero Editor, is that, “He’s working on an ingenious way to crowdsource this crucial part of the process.”

At the assignment desk, where you start working on stories there are more than six pages of assignments on all kind of crowdsourcing topics from politics to music to unconferences to law enforcement to religion.

Getting the plum assignments seems fairly competitive. I have a personal attachment to one of the stories. Jonathan Kuniholm is the son of one of my wife’s dear friends. He lost his right hand in Iraq. He now runs the Open Prosthetics Project.

So this will be a good story, but you apparently have to earn your way into it. The site says:

We need someone to interview Jonathan Kuniholm and write up a Q&A. Kuniholm has the kind of story that makes for front-page human interest profiles. What were his motivations to start this project? What are his ambitions now that it’s off the ground. How will the deluge of veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan missing limbs affect the prosthetics industry. This is a plum of an assignment, and we have high expectations. If you’re interested in this assignment, please tell us why you’re a good candidate below. You’ll hear back from us as soon as we’re ready to set up the interview.

Heck, it is one thing to tried to get paid to write a story and get rejected, but quite another to ask to do it for free and still get the thumbs down. Even as an experienced writer I am not sure if I want to go there.

In fact, it is still not clear to me how one actually gets an assignment. I guess you just put your name and bio and see what happens. In fact, I am going to put my name in now because I want to first do an IM Interview with Jay Rosen to see how things are going. So I will give that a try.






eian more


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