So I attended the CrowdConf in San Francisco this week. It was a really nice conference on crowdsourcing, plus I enjoyed San Francisco (the little time I had to spend there). I hung out at Vesuvio next to City Lights Bookstore where Jack Kerouac and Neil Cassidy used to hang and where Allen Ginsberg debuted “Howl” to a small audience of friends and acquaintances. I walked the Fisherman’s Wharf, enjoying the views and the restaurants. And I hung out in Valencia where I ate at a great restaurant called Range. Mostly though, in my whirlwind trip from Monday morning to Wednesday evening, I spent all day Tuesday at this conference.

CrowdConf is put on by a company called CrowdFlower who does microtasking. So, much of the conference was about how to do this effectively using platforms and services like CrowdFlower. But I steered clear of most of those sessions and was more interested in the other aspects of the conference.

I attended a session presented by Dr. Vili Lehdonvirta where he talked about the negative psychological effects of people who work as micro-taskers – how working on small tasks and not knowing the bigger picture has a loss of meaning effect on people as they look to develop self-identity.

I attended a session on how the government is using crowdsourcing, which consisted of a panel of interesting folks including: Nikki Sunstrum, social coordinator co-captain for the state of Michigan; Joe Polastre, an Innovation Fellow at the White House; and Alvin Liang, co-founder of Recovers a community-driven disaster recovery service. Great session.

I attended a session on how the department of defense uses prize-based challenges to generate all kinds of innovation.

I attended also a session of investors, where they discussed what makes them invest in certain projects. That was helpful.

I attended many other sessions as well, but those stood out to me. I also made some nice connections that I hope will last, as it would make the trip all the more meaningful.

I was wondering if flying out to San Francisco for a day was worth the time and money. I believe it was. Sometimes you have to acknowledge those wild hairs.