Sample Essay On Friendsourcing
Type of paper: Essay
Topic: Internet, Friends, Friendship, Information, Twitter, Website, Google, People
Let us imagine that I want to buy a new smartphone and due to a big variety of different brands, models etc. it is difficult for me to make a choice. The first thing I want to know in order to eventually arrive at some decision is the following: which smartphone platform is better – iOS or Android and why. That will be the specific question I want to be answered before I decide on specific brand.
I choose Twitter as the social network where I shall post my question. I choose Twitter because it has two advantages over the other two alternatives (Facebook and Google+). The first advantage is the number of friends who can get involved in answering the question. The number of my friends who have and frequently use an account in Google+ is significantly smaller compared to those who have accounts in Facebook in Twitter. Due to Facebook specific algorithms which make status updates visible not in all friends’ newsfeed but only in those with whom I contacted recently, the number of friends who will see my question is limited and thus the potential number of answers I may receive for it also decreases; for this reason Facebook is less attractive option for posting a question than Twitter. The second advantage of Twitter is the time it takes to receive an answer to a question. Twitter is much more fast-paced while with Facebook and Google+ it is usually necessary to wait longer before you get a response.
Friendsourcing means asking a friend or a network of friends for some information, opinion or recommendation. Friendsourcing is based on a relatively small group of friends who share similar interests and professions and for that reason it becomes a highly valuable, trusted and qualitative source of information compared to crowdsourcing (obtaining the necessary information or ideas by combining contributions from a large group of people, usually unidentified online community volunteers who, due to their anonymity, are not very careful regarding the quality of information they provide) and web search (where you have to skim through many worthless articles and comments before you find some valuable data.
I can make a prediction that the web search will provide the answer within the shortest period of time. The reason is that with the web search it is only necessary to type the question and to click on the ‘search’ button – and the websites with possible answers will appear immediately. Of course, some of the websites suggested by the search engine will turn out to be useless, so it will take some time to look through a certain amount of websites before I find good answer to my question, but due to the fact that the question I am going to ask is rather simple and general, I assume that I will be able to find an answer which will satisfy me in the first 2-3 websites.
I suppose that in my particular case the answer to the question will be equally trustworthy if I use web search and friendsourcing. In the first case the information I receive will be more general and objective while in the latter case I will obtain subjective information based on personal experience of the respondents. I would not put much trust into crowdsourcing though due to the fact that the people responding to the question may be biased or they may provide false information due to some personal interests.
Some other motivations to use friendsourcing instead of other alternatives include personalized answers (i.e. my friends know my preferences and they will probably take them into account when writing a reply to my question); absence of the necessity to look through many websites before you find the answer while I expect that friends will provide only relevant information; possibility to ask certain friends some further questions or some specific details regarding the topic of interest.
After I posted my question on Twitter, I received eleven replies. Five people recommended iOS while it is more secure and reliable; four people opted for Android because it is cheaper, more customizable and has more new features; two people did not recommend any platform, they simply listed the disadvantages of both of them. When I did a Google search using the same question, I found many websites which compared both platforms listing their features, advantages and disadvantages without suggesting which one is better and leaving it up to the reader to decide.
The web search strategy lead to the fastest result: approximately two hours passed till I received eleven answers on Twitter, while it took Google only a second to provide me with the websites where I could find an answer for my question. In my case I suppose that answers obtained through friendsourcing and through web search were equally reliable. Google search did not suggest any recommendations as to which of the two platforms is better, but the advantages and disadvantages of these platform indicated by my Twitter friends and by the first four websites provided by Google search were practically the same.
Thus, based on my mini-experiment I conclude that friendsourcing has its benefits and downsides. The fact that it is necessary to wait some time before you receive answers to your question (or it may be the case that you do not receive any answer at all) is definitely the downside of this process. But it also has its benefits: the reliability and value of information and personal experience of people you trust.