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Crowdsourcing: A Definition

  • I like to use two definitions for crowdsourcing:

    The White Paper Version: Crowdsourcing is 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.

    The Soundbyte Version: The application of Open Source principles to fields outside of software.

The Rise of Crowdsourcing

  • Read the original article about crowdsourcing, published in the June, 2006 issue of Wired Magazine.
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May 27, 2006

Comments

Alan

Very interesting Jeff, although I am not surprised that it exploded! I would be interested to hear from the forward looking people who might have already envisioned how “the crowd” might be able to utilize this new phenomena. Salmon or trout for supper? Alan

Chris Anderson

And to reinforce your point, Steve Jurvetson's blog comment came after he saw me speak at a private VC luncheon, where I used the term. And I used the term because I had seen a draft of your story. (For those outside the Wired bubble, I'm the editor)

Ashfaq Tunio

Tapping into the vast potential of unused human resources, talent and time, call it 'crowd-sourcing' or anything else, is the way of the future. Each of the billions of people on this earth all have much to offer: knowledge, experience, ideas, tips, advice, information, time, companionship and sympathy. If we consider the vast number of hours which are wasted each day doing nothing, looking for information, and following blind alleys, the tremendous waste of human potential is staggering. So much knowledge is already available, but still many people are re-inventing the wheel. People are literally dying in underdeveloped countries from diseases for which cures have already been discovered.

Consider the use of a map - if I want to get from point A to point B, I could go up many blind alleys and finally reach there. If I had a map, I do't waste time and reach point B in the least possible time. Now to be more efficient, I have to know that the map is available, where to get it from, and how to read it. A map is a chunk of knowledge, already discovered and organized by someone who took the time and effort to do so. But once made, there is no reason why the map cannot be used by hundreds or thousands of people. The same is true for knowledge of any kind - medicine, engineering, chemicals, agriculture, architecture, you name it. The knowledge is already available in books, on the web, or in the heads of experts, but it needs to be pointed out to the people who need it but don't know where to find it. This could be one important role of using the power of the people.

Take the analogy of the map further. I have a map, but it is static. It doesn't tell me which road is closed due to road repairs, where there is a traffic jam, or which gas station is selling gas the cheapest right now. There are complete radio and TV channels devoted to broadcasting updates on traffic conditions, with traffic-spotters phoning in with changes in the ground situation. Crowdsourcing? You bet. Apply this to online knowledge repositories. Wikis. People constantly sending in updates and corrections on every subject. What we have is a dynamic map of knowledge. Whats the best place to eat in this area? Where can I get a plumber or babsitter in that area? Who is the expert on this subject? Where can I find an answer to my question on that issue? What we need is a cross between Google, Wikipedia and Yahoo Answers. A place where anyone can get the answer to his/her question on any subject instantaneously. A job for crowdsourcing? Obviously.

I am in the process of setting up such a web-site, and would appreciate input, advice and help from all interested. ( 'Ash' at drtunio@gmail.com ).

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