Crowd Sourcing Community Projects like Tom Sawyer at SxSWi 2012: video

Tom Sawyer famously talked his gang into paying him for the privilege of whitewashing  a fence while he sat by and supervised. In this talk by Dave Olson at SxSW Interactive on March 10th 2012, he shares how companies might inspire their community to crowd source projects by engaging passionate users with a mutually beneficial relationship.

This video – made from appropriately crowd-sourced photos, social posts, and other snippets + music – includes Mark Twain-period costuming, pipes, smoking jackets, board games, old-timey suitcase, mysterious envelopes, audience participation and plenty of laughs while focusing on practical tactics to rally communities with clear expectations, boundaries, rewards, and objectives and importantly – without manipulating.

3 very different project examples provide tangible advice for various campaign timelines, outcomes and audiences, and include:

* True North Media House: a long-planned (and fantastically successful), renegade self-accreditation citizen documentation project at Vancouver 2010 Olympics / Paralympics 

* Phones for Fearless: a rapidly planned and deployed initiative to gather dis-used mobile phone/cameras for use by marginalized communities to tell their stories

* Hootsuite Translation: activating global cultures to speedily and accurately translate and localize a social media dashboard using a web tool… with unexpected outcomes

Includes cameos of dozens of bright faces in Austin at the noteworthy event, plus more recent voice over to bring the projects up to date and share more resources to explore further including screenshots from various media appearances, reviews, tweets, and whatnot of the talk and aftermath for extra colour.With thanks to Andrew Lavigne, Hugh Forrest and dozens of participants capturing media, especially Kris Krug.

++ Select Blurbs / Reviews / etc ++

“Fascinating, and at times bizarre, #SXSW conversation on crowdsourcing by HootSuite’s Dave Olson”

“Still reeling from Dave Olson’s talk on activating communities. What I heard was let go and support the passion of the people. #sxsw”

“So far #sxsawyer talk by Dave Olson includes costume change and a pipe. Crowd sourcing gets interesting! #sxswi”

“Polish owls, wheelchair curling & other magic inspiration with @uncleweed #SXSawyer #SXSW #WORD”

“Crowdsourcing is simply giving up an action normally handled by your organization over to your users or audience…Dave Olson, dressed in no less than Antebellum Southern garb, took a chapter out of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer… What can I say I am a sucker for historical costumes.”

“In all the years I’ve gone to Interactive, I’ve never seen someone read out of a 140-year-old classic novel.” “I started thinking about this,” Olsen said. “He had to convey excitement, a bit of mystery” to get people to help him with the work. “I also realized Tom was being a little manipulative.” “Olsen said thinking about that made him examine whether he was taking advantage of people when working on a crowdsourcing project.”

“In Dave’s trademark fashion, he walked us through each story, using audience motivation and end benefit as pillars to ground us in the “why” audiences participated, and continue to participate in these efforts.”
1. Appealing to an audience’s heart first, then their wallet.
2. If you’re going to crowdsource, use a “gentle voice” when you want to protect your brand.
“Two reasons why I love Dave.”

“It was a refreshing take on storytelling and creating audience participation at SXSW. And Dave had a great story to tell… Fundamentally Dave believes “forward momentum frequently shared” is essential to crowdsourcing, not incentives like money.”

“True to form, Dave constantly engaged with the audience during the presentation, taking in comments, asking questions and getting people to participate in building on the discussion.”

“My favorite panel of the fest thus far. Hootsuite’s Dave Olsen talked about his crowdsourcing projects, and how they related to Tom Sawyer getting others to whitewash his fence.”

++ Credits ++

Crowd Sourcing Community Projects Like Tom Sawyer, SxSWi 2012

Note: Credits compiled with best efforts with thanks

Errors and omissions: gravellybeach (at) &/or etc.

Note: NOT a SXSW or Hootsuite project NOPE

>> Basics <<

Audio captured by Andrew Lavigne for
“Generation Social: The Vancouver Network” @gensoc

Written, Presented and Art’d up:
Dave Olson
at SXSWi, Austin, Texas, USA
March 10, 2012


Nusa Ceningan, Indonesia
February / August 2019


Okayama, Japan
May 2020 (yeah took a while…)


  >> General Audience <<


Kris Krug /
Kim Swagemakers @Kim_S
Darren Yada @yads
Laura Horak @wondermerchant
Robert Quigley @robquig

et al

>> True North Media House <<

Collage + Reference Photos

Kris Krug
Mariska Richters
John Biehler
James Wallace
Dave Olson
The Blackbird


Robert Scales
Aleks Wallace
Heba Aly
Nadia Nascimento
Iain Black
Andrew Lavigne
Jon Ornoy
John Biehler
Jason Vanderhill
Mariska Richters
Bob Mackin
Dustin Quasar
Richard Loat
Rebecca Bollwitt
Andy Miah
Singing Goose
Dan Olson
Dr. Jennifer Mackenzie Jones
Duane Storey
Gord Rickards
Ross Rebagliatti
Global TV news lady
Ian Bell, Guy Kawasaki and young Kawasaki
Unidentified TNMH social reporter
Dave Olson
Manfred Becker for Canada’s National Film Board.
Awesome Wheelchair Curler
1 more With Glowing Hearts film guy
Unidentified host at Canada North House

>> Phones for Fearless <<

Collage + Reference Photos
Kris Krug


Andre Charland
Austin J Lee
Tris Hussey
James Wallace
Roland Tanglao
Monica Hamburg
Ianiv Schweber
Kris Krug
Dave Olson
Sharon’s fella

>> Hootsuite Translation <<

Collage & Reference Photos + Cameos

Hootsuite Community Team(s)
and Hootsuite Ambassadors + attendees at Hootups
(and Dave Olson)

Note: “Owly” character in various guises property of
Hootsuite Media, Inc.


>> “Dossier of Importancy” Riffs <<

bev. davies
Ryan Holmes
Various unidentified audience participants


>> Etc. <<

Michael Fergusson at Gingerman with others via @meghan_krane
(photo credit unknown)

Samuel Clemens photo and various Tom Sawyer derivative art (sources lost, presumed fair use)


>> More Blurbs, Articles, Bonus <<

After Credits

Twitters etc.

Josh (Smith) Aycock @joshaycock
Andrea Conant @AndreaC007
Jeannie Walters @jeanniecw
Katie Smith @bombaycowgirl
Meghan Krane @meghan_krane
Corey Dilley @CoreyDilley
Dan Moj @mojomatic6000
John OBrien III @jobrieniii
Gustavio Faleiros @gufalei
Josh (Smith) Aycock @joshaycock
Andrea Conant @andreaC007
Jeannie Walters @jeanniecw
Ateqah Khaki @ateqah
Helen Nowicka @helennow
Dean Broughton @Dean_Broughton
/RobertQuig via Tumblr

Media Articles, various

“Best Weekend Quotes From SXSW Interactive”
iMediaConnection Blog / Adam Leiter

“Tom Sawyer Goes Social – Hootsuite’s Crowdsourcing Insights”
Business 2 Community / business2community

“Thoughts from SXSW: Crowdsourcing Lessons from Tom Sawyer”/
Fleishman DNA / fleishmanhillard

“Crowdsourcing Comes From the Heart, Not the Wallet”
Porter Novelli’s Blog

“Tom Sawyer Goes Social – Hootsuite’s Crowdsourcing Insights”
iMediaConnection Blog / imediaconnection

“SXSW Quick Hits: Day 1 and 2”
Technical Bent / technicalbent

“SXSW Day 2: HootSuite continues its ascent”
Vancouver Sun

“SXSW: HootSuite organically mobilizes around the globe”
Ottawa Citizen

“What I Brought Back for You From SXSW”
consensus insight

Amber Reinhard
“#SXSW 2012 – Sharing and Soaring”

Hootsuite blog


Dave Olson presents “Crowd Sourcing Community Projects like Tom Sawyer at SxSWi 2012”

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