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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 16, 2006

Comments

Russell Kord

Hi Jeff,

One extra addition to the lexicon: "Crowdslammed". We are all going to need a word to describe the lost of a job to Crowdsourcing.

Bruce Sterling

Isn't it getting a little meta of you to crowdsource your
crowdsourcing neologisms?

I would guess that a crowdsourced neologism would
be "crowdslang," but I'm not sure how "crowdslang" is distinguishable
from everyday slang, given that language is the ultimate
highly-distributed peer-production mechanism anyhow.

I'm guessing that if you really want to crowdsource your
neologisms, you're gonna have to set up a neologism contest,
get 'em to vote and then PAY somebody.

JeffPHowe

Bruce, Russell,

Love crowdslammed. And yes, Bruce, you've found me out. I plan on crowdsourcing every aspect of my workload as possible. If a $70 billion behemoth like P&G can crowdsource, why not me? The pay is slightly more than that of your average Mechanical Turk task, which is to say, $.03 (That's a guess, folks, though I bet I'm not far off.) For a few hundred bucks I'll have a whole dictionary!

No seriously, nothing's evinced the organic, many-to-many nature of language than my experience this last month. I know what *I* think crowdsourcing means, but as I noted in my definition post (in more or less words), I'm merely just one more peer in the network that will determine its ultimate meaning. And, I might add, thank God for it and power to the peeps. Loss of control is wiki-good fun.

Bruce Sterling

Okay, great; crowdsource the works. But if you're not supplying
the capital or a market, what they heck are YOU YOURSELF
bringing to the table? What's your unique value proposition?
There must be one, right?

bubbleboy

Thanks, Jeff:
I very much appreciate your ideas and novel viewpoint.

I've had a product, produced for years, that could end the debate on abortion, stop the spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS, and change the political agenda in Washington. The trouble is: Men have to wash-off after using it. It has found acceptance in communist countries such as China; where the government can enforce its use. Otherwise, men like it ...but simply refuse to "wash afterwards."

Any ideas where to find a "better" adhesive?
I could make someone very rich for the correct answer.

BTW: The Frank Rose comment triggered my post!

JeffPHowe

That's a good question, Bruce. If my call for crowdblanking submissions was made in a less playful spirit, I'd say I would need to offer something in exchange for readers' creative efforts. I could say I offer a venue (classic reputation economy motivation), but the fact is I have too few readers to make that claim. If Russell (for hypothetical purposes) wanted the crowd to adopt "crowdslammed," and further, give him credit for its creation, he'd be better served by posting it to comment sections on more widely trafficked sites.

But crowdslang aside, I think I'd take issue with the idea that there does always need to be a unique value proposition. In a paper examining what motivates open source programers (google "Why Hackers Do What They Do"), Karim Lakhani and Robert Wolf concluded that even such intangible rewards as burnished reputation were secondary to "enjoyment-based intrinsic motivation," ie, creative satisfaction. It's my hunch that a contributor to threadless.com, or iStockPhoto experiences is driven by a similar impulse (though I emphasize that's just a hunch right now.)

Bubbleboy: Wow. I'm probably dense (or overly modest), but I'm having a difficult time envisioning the precise nature of your product. That said, I encourage you to post the problem to InnoCentive. They boast a 30 percent success rate, and that's on problems that have stumped some of the smartest corporate scientific teams on the planet.

Shazz

Crowdsharing (idea karma)
Crowdism (vs. crowdslang)
Crowdstorming (idea pingpong)
Crowdcontrol (idea vetting)

Jeff, your creative satisfaction approach is bang-on.
Just came across your site this week, I'll keep posted.

Shazz
(from iStock's hometown) :-)

Buzzy

Crowdpleasers: (what the winners are called )

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I could say I offer a venue (classic reputation economy motivation), but the fact is I have too few readers to make that claim. If Russell (for hypothetical purposes) wanted the crowd to adopt "crowdslammed," and further, give him credit for its creation, he'd be better served by posting it to comment sections on more widely trafficked sites.

Classic China Run

Bubbleboy: Wow. I'm probably dense (or overly modest), but I'm having a difficult time envisioning the precise nature of your product. That said, I encourage you to post the problem to InnoCentive. They boast a 30 percent success rate, and that's on problems that have stumped some of the smartest corporate scientific teams on the planet.

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