[OSM-dev] X-Prizes

Anselm Hook anselm at gmail.com
Tue Mar 18 21:37:57 GMT 2008

Where the x-prize approach seems to have worked is in creating press
and awareness, bringing new participants to the table, leveling the
field.  It seems to work in particular as a complement to government
bureaucracies which while well funded just seem unable to innovate.

It may also be best for research; which is always risky and has more
unknowns than for data collection.  And such a programme would
undoubtably need careful goal setting with consolation prizes and a
series of hoops rather than a single success or fail measurement.  It
requires a focused attention; such as a peer based review committee.

How it actually works may differ from how we think it works; teams may
coalesce, split; share skills and the like - it may not be directly
competitive as it may seem from the outside.  Empirical results may
differ from expectations.  I really have no idea whatsoever; it could
go horribly.  Undoubtably there will be some negative side-effects -
just a question of if they drown out intended consequences.

But I suggest the x-prize approach today basically for one reason: as
a hedge against the kinds of longer term ossification we see in other
institutions when money and value come together.  The link to
'crowding out of intrinsic motivations' touches on it.  (I note that
avoiding that pathology is one of the incentives behind the BSD
license as well - where the license lets developers make money and
push away the liability of having to own the source code).

Perhaps it is best to focus on "today" problems rather than "tomorrow"
problems but it's clear OSM is going to be recognized as being as
fundamentally valuable as Wikipedia and other like huge social efforts
- if not more so...  Place is so important and underpins many other
big projects we can't even start without our models being better.
(For me in particular I want to do computational forward simulation of
entire watersheds and ecosystems like say 'London' - but need access
to ongoing high-quality data...  Hopefully you can forgive then the
longer term view in my thinking...)


On Tue, Mar 18, 2008 at 11:31 AM, Frederik Ramm <frederik at remote.org> wrote:
> Hi,
>  > are there examples of where this has happened in other projects?
>  None that I know of. There's some discourse about this online, good
>  starting point is
>  http://tieguy.org/blog/2006/06/18/crowding-out-of-intrinsic-motivations-aka-the-bounty-problem/
>  but it's all rather inconclusive and builds heavily on non-IT
>  examples.
>  We could make history by trying this out on a grand scale ;-)
>  Bye
>  Frederik
>  --
>  Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"
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