Dec 13

If you’re a developer or designer and haven’t checked out Cambrian House yet, you are missing out. This is a project eerily similar to the virtual co-op we were attempting with Grid7 Labs last year only they did a stellar job of telling the story, getting some VC money behind it and building up inertia with a solid community of contributors. I was interviewed recently for their “Movers & Shakers” section and they just posted our conversation as a podcast. There’s over 3500 ideas currently in their idea bin. I submitted a handful and two have been lucky enough to float into the top eight in the past two tournaments.

The one that’s in the running now in the Purple Cow Tournament is called “Disruptive Virtual Renderfarm” and you can read more about it on their site. The essence is the idea that the advent of utility computing for the public as afforded by Amazon’s EC2 service makes it possible for somebody to create a virtual render farm that could compete against existing outsourced render services like that have heavy investments in physical infrastructure. Aside from having no fixed costs, the differentiators would be simplifying the render job submission process by creating hooks for each major animation packages and having a payment system that lets people pre-load their account and draw down as they order jobs. There’s good dialogue with people picking it apart but (fingers crossed) it will advance today to Round #3 of the tournament.

The incentive here is that the winning idea gets built and the original contributor and the people that submit code and designs earn ownership rather than contract rates. This is precisely what we hoped to create with Grid7 Labs – an environment for fostering innovation where the contributors would get not a paycheck but a stake in what they helped build. Where we diverged from CH in the model was in the decision to couple the roles of idea contributor with project manager and as we learned that was a critical error.

CH is not without its flaws – I’ve written a little about what I think they’re still missing, namely 3 of the 4 preconditions for the Wisdom of Crowds magic to work. In their defense though, we know first-hand what it is to try and run a virtual co-op; project managing these experimental developments and encouraging people who aren’t getting paid immediately to give up their Saturdays and evenings in order to contribute. All things considered, they’ve executed and actually shipped products. Guy Kawasaki says “Sales fix everything.” The equivalent statement in the world of virtual co-ops is that “Enthusiasm and community fixes everything,” and so far CH has built a phenomenal community. They continue to make all the right moves and their decision to form a “tribal council” of community members to help resolve the inevitable disputes that arise when people are submitting similar ideas is genius. It’s an honor to be listed as their latest “Mover and Shaker.”

Take a minute to setup an account if you don’t have one already, peruse the eight ideas competing in the tournament and cast your vote for the one you think should be built.


One Response to “My Cambrian House interview and the Disruptive Virtual Renderfarm”

  1. I’ve set up the account and I will be sure to ask questions about what it’s all about later.

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