Monday, May 3, 2010

From concept to prototype in a weekend: emerged in my market watch as an interesting initiative, not only because it exemplifies the potential of crowdsourcing, but also because it was built in a weekend using Amazon Web Services (AWS).

CrowdPhoto is a bit like an Aardvark service for pictures: people request a specific picture like "A pink penguinin North Pole" and specify how much they're willing to spend to get their hands on the picture; other people can submit materials in response to the request and get paid for the picture(s) they provided. I'm not too clear whether there is a reward sharing or other mechanism in case many people provide content on the same request, but that's the concept in substance. The prototype is remarkable in a few ways:

  1. it was deployed in just a weekend

  2. the minimal set of features is present and usable by the perennial idiot without anything getting broken... in a visible way at least

  3. technical aspects were addressed in conjunction with marcoms aspects since the prototype has its logo, tag line, clear statement of what it's all about and, yes, it's Twitter account @crowdphoto

Crowdphoto makes me think of the world described by David Brin in his book Earth, where privacy gets overtaken by low-cost mass-adopted high-tech surveillance, communications and database tools that people carry around propelling the planet into an era of complete social transparency. Each person who freely contributes content on the web has a level of authority relative to the topics they are covering and is therefore more or less influential. 

Whether it's going to fly or not as an economically profitable operation is quite another story and to a large extent not a very relevant one. The sheer fact that people have the capability to go from concept to deployed prototype in just a weekend thanks to infrastructure as a service is truly amazing and has far-reaching implications for entire categories of businesses that can now be tested fast and in a flexible way. I just wonder what was the sum total of effort and money invested in preparing the weekend and in building the prototype.


  1. Thanks for noticing our hard work this weekend and thanks for the insightful comments. To answer your question, there was no preparation before we started. We formed the team and decided what we wanted to build on Friday evening.
    Our infrastructure costs consisted of under $10 to register the domain Friday evening and under $10 of AWS costs for two days of Amazon EC2, SimpleDB, S3, CloudFront.
    I wrote a bit more here:
    -- Eric Hammond

  2. Eric,
    Thanks for the additional info on budget and how you proceeded. Starting with just the concept on a Friday and having a working prototype of this level of quality is simply amazing. Again congratulations to you and to the team who worked with you to accomplish this.
    See you around.

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