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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January 26, 2007


Daren C. Brabham

It sounds like in order to be a successful manager of a crowdsourcing organization, you have to do large amounts of formal and informal internal research about the crowd in order to keep meeting the crowd's needs.

I'd be interested to know what questions this kind of research centers around. That is, what information are managers constantly seeking about the communities they serve? And how do they go about collecting that kind of information from what could be--at least in theory--a faceless, changing sea of users from varying backgrounds and abilities? If passion seems to be a necessary element of the crowd, I wonder what kinds of research programs are in place (formal or informal) that track or identify this passion with any precision. (Or, of course, there may just be a lot of gut instinct in the managing of a crowdsourcing operation...who knows).


Bruce’s fourth rule, as he states, is simple yet crucial. He points to the practicalities of decision-making but it’s “his” values and the application of them that sets the standards making the following impulses more likely to be successful. Isn’t one more likely to share passion in an environment where such attitudes genuinely permeate a working process? As much as passion originates internally it must surely be formed and come to expression by the constraints or lack of thereof in an organic process. Bruce, once you have your finger on the pulse how do the members of your community complement your interpretations, any jewels from the working process other than your obvious success? Alan.


So much good advice here! So, where to start? Perhaps I'll just pull out a quote from this second installment from Bruce:

"If you listen, the community will give you the best ideas."

How did we get so far from this tenet in our corporatist society? It's such a simple (and powerful) perspective that was at the heart of all good business/marketing and it had been for so many years. Today's technology and this emerging community-driven business model helps us get back to these roots. What's different now, is that we listen not only to "customers" but to "community members" ... a far healthier and optimistic outlook IMO. You don't have to necessarily pay (or earn) to be heard.


Bruce Livingstone

To answer Alan, I don't always get it right. I listen, interpret and sometimes carelessly hurl a brick in the air that smashes (and not in a good way). I guess what we hear and how we interpret what the crowd wants or needs may not always actually be good for us. Also, sometimes I just get it plain wrong. I try to stay humble, publicly discuss my mistakes and people are very forgiving, helpful and understanding. We talk about what went wrong. There it is. The only rare jewel I have for you is that since iStock started, we've had a constant conversation, all 1.5 million of us. All I have to do is listen, do my best and stay humble. Easy!

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