Valve’s “Steam Greenlight” Lets Customers Decide What Gets Published

For anyone unfamiliar with Valve Software’s Steam platform, it is the leading digital delivery marketplace for PC games. Valve has announced Steam Greenlight, a community-based website meant to provide indie developers with feedback and the opportunity to be selected by users for distribution on Steam. Unlike sites with a reviewing panel, it will be primarily the customers themselves that will determine the future of these indie titles. Debuting August 30, the community will be able to rate projects that indie developers submit and give feedback.

Games that have a relatively high number of votes from the community, as well as considering other factors like genre and features will likely see their wares on Steam. In other words, it’s not just about getting a specific number of votes, though getting a large quantity of up votes doesn’t hurt in the slightest.

“Making the call to publish or not publish a title isn’t fun,” … “Many times opinions vary and our internal jury is hung on a decision. But with the introduction of the Steam Workshop we realized an opportunity to enlist the community’s help as we review certain titles and, hopefully, increase the volume and quality of creative submissions.” -Valve Rep

This new approach to cultivating an online marketplace is exciting not only for customers but also for small  developers who want to break into a wider audience. It may be hard to imagine other “app stores” doing this, but if a good precedent is set here, it would be interesting to see this concept spread to some of the other well established walled gardens around the industry.

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Crowdsourcing: From 1714 to 2012 (and beyond)

Tongal connects companies with creative people to produce official online campaigns. Kickstarter connects soon-to-be companies with people willing to fund their projects. uTest connects software companies with expert software testers. Google Chrome reached out to Johnny Cash fans to create Johnny’s final music video. Each company connects a group of people who need something to a crowd of suppliers for different reasons and to accomplish different goals. So which one of them is official crowdsourcing?

All of them.

Crowdsourcing is an ever growing trend and as it continues to expand into new areas it can be hard to define. But, as it turns out, crowdsouring to solve problems and create solutions is not a new concept.

Check out this cute video by Crowdsourcing.org for the history of crowdsourcing (dating back all the way to 1714) and an understanding of what crowdsourcing is today.

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Crowdsourced Games Lead to Medical Breakthroughs

An online game helps sequence DNAJournalist Jeff Howe defined crowdsourcing as “The act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call.” And what’s the best way to get people to willingly respond to that open call and perform a (at times grueling) task? Make it a game.

And, as unlikely as it sounds, that’s exactly what medical researchers have done. It turns out that: A. people are very good at finding patterns and coming up with different ways to solve puzzles and B. two minds are better than one, and there are a lot of minds on the internet. That’s why games like Phylo and Biogames’ Telpathology game are growing in popularity while helping researchers solve critical problems.

Phylo is a web-based game that “harnesses the computing power of mankind to solve a common problem: Multiple Sequence Alignments.” Here’s what Phylo has players doing and how it’s helping researchers identify potentially lifesaving DNA patterns:

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Please Register Your Dead Dog (and other testing stories of the day)

Last week, I received a notice from the town of Ashland informing me that I was being fined for failing to register my dog Buster. Three things struck me as odd. First, I don’t own a dog. Second, the letter was not issued to me, but rather the last occupant of my house (who really needs to change his address). Third, Buster has apparently been deceased for a number of years.

How could this have happened? If you guessed software glitch, give yourself a pat on the back.

According to a post on the town’s website today, a glitch in the Town Clerk’s computer software caused notices to be sent to dog owners whose pets might have died or moved out  of town.

“If your dog has moved or passed away, please notify us,” said Clerk Tara Ward’s post.

The post said a software crash also caused purple notices about fines for dog licenses to be sent to residents whose dogs might already be registered.

That’s one of many interesting testing stories of the day. Here were a few others that caught my attention:

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uTest Joins the Ranks of Hot Startups on VatorTV [VIDEO]

What does uTest’s Doron Reuveni have in common with Box’s Aaron Levie, Turntable.fm’s Seth Goldstein, AirBnB’s Brian Chesky, Kaggle’s Anthony Goldbloom and Gaia’s Craig Sherman?  They’ve all been interviewed over the past year by award-winning journalist Bambi Francisco Roizen for Vator.tv.

Last week, uTest joined the ranks of these hot, innovative startups by appearing on VatorTV, one of the largest business networks dedicated to entrepreneurship, and the sister site to VatorNews, which is focused on the business and trends of high-tech entrepreneurship and innovation with 400-plus contributors.

Bambi, the CEO and founder of Vator (short for ‘innovator’), caught up with Doron to learn the ins-and-outs of uTest’s business model and what our expansion plans are for 2012 following our recent $17M D round of funding.

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