Macroblog

About Me

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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March 27, 2009

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Comments

Alan Mairson

Jeff -

Any ideas on how to prevent gaming of an ideastorm? If you limit the crowd by "picking the right crowd," then you're simply brainstorming with friends... aren't you?

I enjoyed your talk at the Berkman Center, which I caught online: http://is.gd/pjYJ . I was especially intrigued by the discussion of Obama's campaign. Yes, the crowd mobilized for the election, and the campaign gave grassroots activists the tools to self-organize. But when it comes to governance & policy (e.g., house parties to support the stimulus package), the crowd's response has been a lot more muted. Part of the reason is undoubtedly the fact that a horse race is exciting, it's easy to see who is ahead, the finish line is well defined, and at the end we have a winner (and loser). But StimPak? Pull up a chair; this will take a while....

I hope you plan to write more about crowdsourcing & politics. I'm particularly interested in how software design affects participation. A friend of mine argues it's all about content, that "no one comes to play with the buttons." But I wonder if that's true, especially since the buttons & what they set in motion (whoosh! dissolve! an elegant fade to black...) are often as much fun to watch as thoroughbreds rumbling to the finish.

Anjali Ramachandran

Thanks a ton for mentioning the wiki, Jeff! I've had dozens of people ask for access so they can contribute, or suggest things to add. It looks like it's a useful resource, and I'm looking forward to seeing what it can grow into.

Adam Green

Crowdsourcing is a great tool for politicians, but will they be able to control what they unleash? I'm also curious to see when SEO meets crowdsourcing. SEOs already have to tools and skills to take advantage and possibly subvert crowdsourcing techniques. Are politicians fully aware of SEO and are they taking advantage of it?

Jeff Howe

@Anjali: Thank you for putting the wiki up. Like I said, it's a badly needed resource, and I'm not surprised to see the amount of buzz it's raised in Twitter.

@Adam: The IdeaJam system (a la Google Moderator or Salesforce.com Ideas platforms) is ridiculously vulnerable to SEO strategies. It's a mark of how little Ideajams are penetrating our economy at large that SEOs have yet to make Swiss cheese out of them. I expect (and hope) that the coders at companies like Google and SF.com, as well as other entrepreneurs, will be able to engage in the inevitable arms race that will start as IdeaJams start becoming more widespread.

StephanieInCA

Thats the thing about Twitter--it's both a broadcast tool AND a listening device. For some people it's one, for others it's the other, for a lot of folks, it's both. But the beauty of twitter is that it's not necessarily reciprocal. I can broadcast to one crowd and listen to another: http://urbzen.com/2009/03/30/in-defense-of-twitter/

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Great points of view! Going in the direction of smartsourcing i'd highlight the Novitate.com portal. It has a great visual and it is easy-to-use. Moreover, you build your own group of innovation controlling access throughout invitations. It's a way to join people/knowledge really relevant.
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