Last August, I covered MyCroft, which was making a unique service that broke down tasks, such as translation, that could only be done well by humans. It spread out these tasks as challenges on advertising banners. Cool idea, but it was so way out there that it was unlikely to succeed. And indeed, is hasn't. The company has renamed itself inChorus and launched a new service with that name that takes the original MyCroft concept in a new direction. I got the skinny at last night's Silicon Valley New Tech Meetup.
Now, instead of challenging random users to perform rote tasks such as translation and tagging, it encourages its questioners to launch "projects" that seek advice from the crowd. For example, you can ask for feedback on a product you're thinking of launching, or put a multiple-choice poll on the service, or (just like with the old version) ask users to tag photos or items.
What do these tasks have in common? Not much that I can see, and that's not good. I was initially intrigued by the open-ended project template on inChorus, but to me, a "project" consists of more than a single question and an answer that can be crammed into a standard advertising banner. Here's my project, for example. There's no room for depth there. It pains me to say it, but inChorus seems to be even more an example of a technology in search of a business than MyCroft was.
The concept of spreading work out to multiple users and sites does make sense, though. For example, the voting engine Vizu is interesting. Like inChorus, it distributes questions to multiple sites and communities, but the Vizu business model seems better thought out.
I liked what MyCroft was doing previously. I still believe that yoking the crowd of Net users together into a single engine of intelligence is a powerful idea, but this project seems a bit scattered.