Labo(u)r and web 2.0

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I was discussing blogging with a prospective client during a pitch on Friday and blogging came up as a topic of discussion as it is the subject d’jour. The person was grappling with the challenges of monitoring the blog, motivating internal people to write the posts, how to keep it interesting, and how to respond to comments in a timely manner.

A further matter of interest was the way that the company had an IT policy which banned RSS feeds, making the potential task so much harder. The key theme that ran through was labour either in terms of staffing up to handle the project internally or motivating contributions and spare cycles outside of the PR and marketing department.

It is this labour-intensive aspect of web 2.0 which makes Google’s take up of the ESP game for its own ends interesting. As a wise man once said “Someone that truly enjoys their job, never does a days work in their life”. Carnegie Mellon’s ESP game seems to have taken this saying to heart.

It has two random competitors guess what the other is tagging random pictures, so it builds consensus via the tags on what the pictures mean. Google has borrowed the concept wholesale to improve its image search.

In this way it has the potential to building up more universally meaningful tags than say flickr or Yahoo! MyWeb. It also gets around the key objection of tagging nay sayers of what is in it for consumers, beyond the early majority and hardcore content creators.

On a geeky note will we see a more social search based offering from Google in the future or is this an exercise to train some sort of machine learning system?