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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« Commercializing Community, Continued | Main | IBM's Many Eyes »

January 30, 2007


Stewart McTavish

Congratulations on the book. I look forwrd to seeing how the process develops. Definitely an exciting topic to look at and perhaps the next economic revolution ...
best of luck.


Congratulations on having the rights bought Jeff and good luck on the process! Alan.


Here is a new IBM Beta site, Many Eyes. A site where you can see your data visualizations and multiple people can access them for a collaborative experience. The amount of interactivity is pretty interesting, many layers and highly developed.

“Investigate the social and communicative value of information visualization.”


Interesting Developments at Flicker. They are taking a beating right now over their decision today to force original users to merge with Yahoo accounts with new limits on both the number of contacts and tags allowed on Flicker!

I find it interesting that the “tone” being experienced by users is decidedly different now that Yahoo is at the wheel.

I anticipate, as community and social start ups move through the maturation and the by-out cycle that this might become a common experience. A blip, insignificant?

Posted comments like “Mcflickr! It says so much to the corporatization of a once beautiful site” might become a common lament.

Whilst reading Bruce Livingstone’s rules, I experienced heart and soul. Can the Yahoo’s and Google’s of the world maintain the heart and soul of a community? Alan.

Link to Not Work Safe comments.

Jeff Howe

Thanks for your kind comments everyone. I look forward to the collaborative process to come. --Jeff


Jeff, sincere congrats ... the crowd awaits! :D
It will be fascinating to see how CS (and your book) evolves in a calendar year.

Alan, I'm a happy flickrer and saw some of the brouhaha today too. The first person I saw complaining had almost 20,000 "contacts" ... I've got to think a bit more about this. Is it really a "photo sharing site" if you've got 20,000 contacts? But, then again, why not?

... Shazz

mademoiselle moutarde

Interesting Blog, good luck with your book! I found you through an article in a Swiss journal ( wich mentioned "crowsourcing" once.


Is it too early to pre-order on Amazon? ;)

Aunt Mary

Let me know when I can order the book. Good luck.

Ellen Stiefler

First, congratulations Jeff! The publishing deal is wonderful news and Random House/Crown is a great publisher. I wish you all the best.

As you said, book writing has changed and so too has book publishing. For years I've represented the traditional authors and publishers (as their attorney) in the book business, but in the last few years, I've also been representing the new players: "book shepherds" who help authors prepare their books for self-publishing, "bestseller strategists" who help get books on bestseller lists so that authors can call themselves "bestselling author" even if that just means short-term status on a minor index; "book marketers", vanity presses, subsidy presses, small independent publishers, and many very savvy people who provide support to the ever more competitive, small margin new publishing business.

Like so many other businesses you write about, the economics of the book publishing business have changed mightily and I think that's what's most responsible for the changes I've seen. Technology and viral marketing and print-on-demand and other factors all come into play too, of course.

As with a portfolio of investments, publishers know that it may take nine non-bestsellers before they recoup their losses with one winner. Consequently, publishers are less and less willing to take risks, especially with unknown authors. They are stingier about book tours and promotional budgets and sizes of first print runs and distribution. I also find that publishers are more apt to sign a book when the believe they have a marketable author and "hook" or "pitch", or a built-in marketable author with a large email database or network to sell into, not just a well-written, marketable book or story.

Advances, especially for non-fiction, can be very small. I often advise my clients that if an advance is below a certain amount or range that I give them depending on various aspects of the deal, they need to be aware that a publisher who has very little invested can let a book languish or even perish unpublished. It won't upset the publisher's bottom line even while it might drive my client mad, and most publishing deals give the publisher a healthy window within which to publish, which can be torture for an author who has expectations of seeing their book in print at long last.

Gosh...I didn't mean this to be so gloomy! There's lots of good news too, especially with how accessible publishing is today, with easy to produce and ecommercialize E-Books, Podcasts and low-cost printed books.

I hope the writing process, and the Blog-facilitated discourse go smoothly and that you have a lot of fun throughout! All my best, Ellen in San Diego

Daren C. Brabham

I think there should be an accompanying e-Book, Jeff. In my dissertation research, I've drawn on Surowiecki's Wisdom of Crowds (as I'm sure you will do too), and it being an e-Book has made it very convenient for me.


I'm sure it will be a bestseller in Germany. :)


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Crowdsourcing is an inspiring book and has led me to look at crowd sourcing opportunities in the marketplace as well as with not-for-profits. Thanks / Paul - Ideavibes

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