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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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June 02, 2006

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Comments

Alan

Thanks for the up-date Jeff. I found it interesting when searching for examples of crowdsourcing to find examples of an economic nature that quite frankly appear to be negative forms of the concept, for me at least. In short, large organizations using the method to by-pass the burdens of, health benefits, paid holidays unions and all the other overheads that come with more traditional forms of employee/employer relationships. I say negative because that is basically using the principle to cut expenditures, anyway an economic engine that is already in overdrive, and “use” the crowd principle purely based on economic gain! The question that arises for me is age old and applies to most already existing forms of the above-defined relationships. It is of a moral/rights nature and I would suggest that the evolving market place should also be evolving on principles that are healthy for the larger community. One might find such a statement naive but it is, in my mind, central the long-term health of the “social order.” The use of crowdsourcing for purely economic gain is the antithesis of what should be evolving along with what new technologies are making possible. The question is, who is going to take on that responsibility? It appears to me that in a point in the middle of a circle image, with the point being those who are exerting economic gain and the circle being the crowd, that the circle might have to provide moral responsibility to the process because the point has already demonstrated that it’s not going to happen. This all might sound rather esoteric but surely important for long term societal health. Rome did not fall in a day but it fell!

I am very interested in how the crowd might use crowdsourcing and wonder if there is any forward looking person out there who might have some ideas!

Jeff, did you catch anything? Alan.

Edwyn Chan

Jeff your article is great. I just blogged about it. too bad you don;t have trackback on your blog. I think crowdsourcing is sort of an inverse of longtail. what do you think?

Theo

I don't think many Americans fully comprehend just how disruptive this idea really is. It has the potential to be far more disruptive than outsourcing because it provides the mechanism to unleash the creative abilities of millions of entrepreneurs outside the USA that have never been able to overcome the structural economic deficiencies in their own countries.

Two articles that have a bearing on this subject that may be of interest to people interested in the subject:

The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida
http://www.creativeclass.org/_flight_riseoverview.shtml

Can You Survive the Ebay Economy?
http://www.inc.com/magazine/20000301/17295.html

JeffPHowe

Thanks Theo ... These are indeed great resources. I agree that crowdsourcing could be more disruptive than people realize. It could also foster more economic growth than people realize. But I have too much humility to forecast either of those outcomes with anything approaching surety. For instance, has everyone seen the numbers released in a Pali Research report on digital music sales? No one, to my knowledge, was forecasting a plateuing of growth this early in the game.

Lyndon

No need to go to Amazon or any other bookshop to buy Charles Mackay's 'Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds' - when there it is available for free from Project Gutenberg - http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/m#a516

josh

I am not sure I understand how crowdsourcing will work with businesses that are not necesarily incentive driven, like the T-shirt company. What is going to motivate people to crowdsource when it isn't facebook, or a free t-shirt they are getting?

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