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February 12, 2007

Crowdsourcing in Germany

Within a few days of last week's post I'd received several offers to provide a digest of crowdsourcing's development in Germany. In fact by the next morning I'd received an email from Markus Pöehlmann, who operates the German crowdsourcing blog, crowdwisdom. Markus ginned up the following summary. Kudos and great thanks to Markus for the prompt, informative reply. (If anyone from France, Spain or regions unmentioned feels like using the following as a model, I wholeheartedly encourage it.) There's lots of interesting items here—the adaptability of the Threadless model, for one—so I hope Markus' excellent work triggers some good old international dialogue in the comments section. Here's Markus:

There is a small but active community in Germany that discusses crowdsourcing initiatives, both locally and internationally. I‘ll give an overview and mention some of the projects, companies and people who aim to tap the wisdom the crowds. There are of course more crowdsourcing initiatives than I can mention – I thus focus on a few well-known but also on some less famous projects.

About_sscom_03_2 Design
Many of the most popular crowdsourcing initiatives arose within the t-shirt and design community. There are a significant number of true innovators and early adopters that become quite popular in Germany. Among them are:

• German start-up Spreadshirt (dig the logo, above--Jeff) is one of the most innovative crowdsourcing initiatives (similar to in the US) and initiated (among others) the Open Logo project and the Derby design contest.
Cajong is one of the pioneers for t-shirt design contests.
A Better Tomorrow features design contests and hosts an active design community.
• French design contest start-up LaFraise was acquired by Spreadshirt and now also offers a German site.

Much more following the jump:

Corporate Innovation
Crowdsouring (or "interactive value creation" as it is called by many academic researchers) also is being put to use in the innovation process. There are some highly creative solutions on how to integrate customers into the innovation process and thus extracting a maximum value from the collaboration:
• BMW’s Virtual Innovation Agency invites customers to send in detailed innovation concepts and offers prizes of up to 60,000 EUR in return. (Here's an English-language article on same.)
Hyve offers companies to systematically integrate their customers into the innovation process for new products and designs.


Navigation 2.0
Other initiatives focus on tapping the collective wisdom of the customer base and thus creating a higher value or better product for everyone involved. As an example I’d like to elaborate on the latest “Navigation 2.0” development.

Have you ever wondered why your car navigation system constantly seems to be outdated? Without warning it lets you bump into that new construction site or blocked road, it can’t tell you where the newly opened hardware store is and if you’re trying to evade dense traffic areas – good luck. The problem is a lack of timely information; and this is when crowdsourcing comes into play. There are a few companies offering solutions that allow their users to interact with the system. That is, users feed a central database with local information and everybody subsequently benefits by having access to more accurate and timely data. Just got flashed by a red light camera? Enter that information and prevent others from your fate. And next time you hopefully will benefit from it yourself. Companies who offer such services in Germany include: 
My-POI locally restricted community-built database for points of interest
• Also see: Manager Magazin

There are a growing number of one-time crowdsourcing initiatives. Here are some random picks:

• Crowdsourcing a sail boat design: The German participant in the America’s Cup race hosted a design contest, asking fans to submit designs concepts.

• Crowdsourcing a book on web design: Dr. Web, a popular tekki site, compiles a how-to guide on web design, layout, usability, CSS, AJAX and weblogs, exclusively written by expert readers. Once finished, the book will be published and also be available on the site.

In order to keep up with the crowdsourcing discussion in Germany, I strongly recommend following the relevant weblogs. A very brief selection (sorry for those I forgot to mention;-) follows. The sites are all in German unless stated otherwise:

VisualOrgasm-Blog: Extensive coverage of communitysourcing news, by the initiators of Cajong and various other creative crowdsourcing projects.

Exciting Commerce: One of the most popular blogs that regularly features crowdsourcing projects.

Best Practice Business Blog: One of the richest sources for everything that’s happening in crowdsourcing.

Mass Customization and Open Innovation News: An English-language blog by academic researcher/author Dr. Frank Piller. (FRANK RUNS A TOP-NOTCH SITE ON THE OFTEN OVERLAPPING BUT NOT SYNONYMOUS FIELD OF MASS-CUSTOMIZATION--JEFF)

ANDERS denken: Blog on marketing, innovation and new business models.

ConnectedMarketing: Focuses on word-of-mouth marketing but also features crowdsourcing and user-generated content.

Crowdwisdom: My own relatively new blog on crowdsourcing

Mainstream media regularly feature crowdsourcing and are usually a good source of major developments in that field. Some recent articles follow:
•    Der Spiegel
•    FAZ  
•    Financial Times Deutschland
•    SZ-Magazin 
•    ZEIT

by Markus Poehlmann


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Great overview of the crowdsourcing scene in Germany Markus, thanks.

In the comments section the “suggested” national tendency of “creating some-thing in common and perfectionism” was touched upon. Has there been any dialog about CS as a concept or it’s cultural significance? Is there any discussion about who and why? Alan.

I think it's time for a new term: Krautsourcing. :)

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