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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May 25, 2006



I'm pretty sure any of Dickens' characters would've been absolutely pumped to draw computer sheep at 2 cents a pop.

Paul May

There's a nice bit in "Hard Times" where the schoolteacher, Mr Gradgrind, defines a horse "correctly" for the edification of a poor country girl whose only knowledge of the subject is that horses are her family's livelihood. Gradgrind's products would doubtless have been very happy to secure positions in the herbivore representation industry.

Paul May

Oh yeah - and you probably don't mean "crowdsouring" in your headline... Or maybe you do.

Jeff Howe

Drawing sheep wasn't quite what I had in mind -- drifting through pages of fine print on a deed to identify whether a mortgage is fixed or an ARM is the kind of clickwork I find disheartening. Still, I concede the general point: Drudgery isn't nearly as dreary as it was 150 years ago. I'll even go so far as to list a benefit of Turkwork that I didn't get to squeeze into the article: it is (or could well be) an economic boon to people whose poverty arises from the dumb fact of geography. Bangladesh or BFE Wyoming, work is work.


I agree with that... It's more and more efficient with new technology like nanotechnology...

Ashfaq Tunio

While people in the West may cringe at the Dickinsonian idea of 'click-slavery', I'm sure there will be many millions in underdeveloped countries who would be willing to take up tasks paying a few cents per minute. These are the people who are surviving on less than a dollar a day, so would jump at the idea of getting a dollar an hour.

And who says that crowdsourcing will bring about those horrible conditions. Internet or no Internet, businesses have always tried to find the cheapest source of raw material and labour. Technology only makes it faster. Or would you go back to smashing looms that take work away from the weavers? It has been shown over the duration of the Industrial Age and Post-Industrial Age that machinery and technology may eliminate some jobs, but create many more. And the general standard of living of society keeps going up.

Tapping into the resources of the crowd, using spare time, employing people needing work, flexible hours, all sound a good thing. So what if Amazon is paying pennies right now. After all, its just the beginning of the trend, and experiment. And as I said, people are always free to accept or decline the work.

Competition is what the free market is about, and the price offered for labour will find its level according the the laws of supply and demand. Sounds cruel and heartless, but that's the reality, and has to be accepted. The genie has been let out of the bottle and won't go back in. The process which started with the industrial revolution will not reverse. Just as the PC made the office secretarial pool obsolete, crowdsourcing will bring about changes. People will have to adjust, find new work, find ways of adding value and extracting a premium for their services.

Fashion Photographer

Crowdsouring! Gotta agree - I hate crowds, too.

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I think that Tapping into the resources of the crowd, using spare time, employing people needing work, flexible hours, all sound a good thing. So what if Amazon is paying pennies right now. After all, its just the beginning of the trend, and experiment. And as I said, people are always free to accept or decline the work.

Spring Summer 2010

Having been involved in a logo design process I think you make a very good point Joshua. How could one possibly design a logo not having had an on-going relationship with the client, after all the logo should ideally manifest, in visual form, the complicated internal impulse/impulses of the institution in mind?

Were one to follow that train of thought, the only conclusion one could come to would be that those who need a logo and reach to CS for it are going to get a some what more superficial rendering, be extremely lucky or not be worried because the budget is not there and close enough is, well, close enough.

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Alex Pettyfer

I don't want to spoil the elegance of its conception and realization by giving away too much, but let's just say we've found another application for Mechanical Turk. This is no glib celebration of the creativity in the crowd, though there's an element of that there, but a critique of "the massive and insignificant role each plays as part of the whole," according to Koblin's notes on the project. Sounds right to me. MT has the potential to become a very powerful tool, but the thought of Turkers bent over their home computers clicking their way through some skull-crushingly rote task sounds downright Dickensian.

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