Posted on June 14, 2009 · Posted in Personal

For over a year now a new project has been brewing, OpenPress. It isn’t a secret but nobody took the bait and built it so we are going to do it, something that I am over the moon about. The ‘we’ that I am talking about is Roché Compaan, Steve Song, and myself. We’ve just started out on this journey and there will be a lot more written about this in coming months.

We need to establish a bit of a brand identity and we’re currently sourcing a logo. Rather than tying ourselves to one designer, we want to access the largest possible creative pool we can find to try to come up with something inspired. Given that we want to run this project as cost-effectively and efficiently as possible and an army of designers doesn’t come cheap, we’ve agreed to try the crowdsourcing (a definition I like) approach. In this approach one essentially makes a bounty available for the final product and makes an open call so that any and all can have a crack at the problem.

There are web-services that facilitate the process by managing the bounty, providing a central location where a community of designers convenes and provides a loose framework for managing the process, keeping things roughly fair. We decided to use 99 designs for our process but also considered crowdSPRING. I was dragging my heels a little bit about getting the competition started but Roché jumped straight in and ran a contest for a new web-site design for Upfront Systems. The results of which you can see here.

Yesterday at around noon we launched a competition for the OpenPress logo. In the web-site design contest Roché launched it took a few days before designs really came in. Logo contests are a little simpler and in the first 24 hours of the competition we received 72 entries, which I thought was a phenomenal response. They are definitely not all in the running, it is clear that some people didn’t even read the brief. However, there are already some that I could probably live with and we’ve yet to give any feedback.

I am now a complete convert to crowdsourcing. Given my experiences with the Siyavula logo and web-design processes I think that a site like 99 designs, that has a critical mass of designers, really provides a light-weight, cost-effective and rapid solution for most of my design needs. I will launch a contest, in the near future, to start improving the look of this site I just need to bolster the content so the purpose and scope are clearer :)

About the Author

Mark Horner is the CEO of Siyavula Education, a social enterprise working in the school sector in South Africa. While working as the Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow for Open and Collaborative Resources, Mark was able to transform the Free High School Science Texts (FHSST) project, which he co-founded, into Siyavula Education. In this process, openly-licensed, collaboratively authored textbooks have been printed and distributed nationally in South Africa. Working at the intersection of community, openness and technology; Mark intends to leverage this success to make Siyavula an innovative, technology provider in education that works effectively as part of the education community to ensure better learning opportunities for all. A recent notable event being the delivery of Siyavula's textbooks over Mxit, the most popular mobile chat solution in South Africa. Mark has a PhD in physics from the University of Cape Town and conducted his research at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California on the results from the STAR experiment at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. His work is carried out in the belief that the liberation of information and support of education in South Africa will lead to a peaceful and prosperous future for all South Africans.