Crowdsourced Topic

November 19, 2009

Chris Brogan talks frequently about maintaining momentum and presence in the blogosphere. OK, those might not be his words, but his point is that remaining in front of people is important as long as you have something to share. It helps build brand awareness, it creates some organic education and community, and it keeps you thinking.

I’ve been jamming on so many projects lately – in the social media fishbowl and on dry land – that I’ve been letting a few blogs languish. I run 18 so it’s not amazing that some don’t get all my attention all the time. So guess what I did to spur myself to write a post today.

That’s right, I crowdsourced it. The popular terminology for reaching out to a group of people to come up with an idea or support. For this very post, I asked my 5000 Twitter followers what I should write about. I promised the first retweeter that I’d use their topic and I’d run with it.

How’d it turn out? Not sure yet. Let me go look. I started this intro right after I hit send on my first tweet. Be right back with a photo and the second half of this post.

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Not bad. In the span of a few moments I got retweeted by Ellen Rossano who suggested I write about….well, look at the photo.


She asks me to wax poetically on why we love police and fire departments but don’t help them. It’s a bit broad, but here goes…

From an early age we’re brought up to respect and fear the police uniform. We are told to obey the officer and also to know that the police uniform is a source of safety. That carries through until high school when authority takes on the role of punisher.

We get stopped for speeding, tossed in jail for throwing up in the back of a squad car, sent home while right in the midst of a very productive sign-stealing spree, and so forth. And that’s where our view of the police remains pretty much for life.

Maybe it’s a byproduct of living in the suburbs, but as heroin and vandalism enters my neighborhood on a more regular basis I get more annoyed with the police. Why aren’t they stopping it and why can’t they understand that if they did their job they wouldn’t have to beg for money?

I recently wrote a post in my hometown paper about the lunacy of non-enforcement of traffic laws. Common sense says that you need people to hand out tickets and enforce laws. But common sense also says you GET money when you hand out tickets. If you price the tickets correctly and enforce the laws appropriately, you will have plenty of money to beef up the police force and do an even better job.

People would then love you for being around, for being well staffed, for ridding my neighborhood of heroin and criminals, and for keeping our streets safe.

Unfortunately, it’s a state of antagonism all the time. Cops are in a job that could cause them to be dead at any time. This, I imagine, is part of the reason they don’t ticket every car going 5 miles over the limit and don’t go overboard in making more traffic stops or enforcing more crimes. So we sit here as citizens griping about unions and salaries and loss of safety. And the police department bemoans the economy and that people won’t support them and that they have no resources.

I say make your own breaks – at least a little – and take a look at some revenue production. Give a ticket. Enforce the law. Buy some police toys. That’s how it could work.

Oh, fire departments are great. They won’t come get your cat in a tree, but they are unsung for the most part and have very little in the way of revenue-production tools. I love them and support them. How can I help? Maybe with some suggestions.

Find a revenue stream. Charge people and/or insurance companies for responding to an emergency in the home. If people are dumb enough to slice off a thumb with a knife or lock a child in a running dishwasher, so be it. That’s why we invented evolution.

Fire departments should also get some payment for saving lives and houses. If they arrive at a house and are able to save some portion of a person’s belonging or the dwelling, they should get 10% of the net worth. If they didn’t arrive, your stuff is gone anyway. Makes sense to me…and insurance is paying for it anyhow.

I guess the crux of this mini rant is money. If we all had more of it everyone would be happier. Cops wouldn’t worry as much about staffing. Fire departments wouldn’t whine about fancy fire engines. And towns wouldn’t freak out about laying off teachers.

No solutions here that I expect anyone will take. But I do welcome your comments about my thoughts.

More to come…

PS: I partly took the challenge to write this in 30 minutes because I’ve been pressuring numerous clients to just get down in front of the computer and write a post or two or three or four. They now have proof that it can be done.