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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« Faces in the Crowd - Interview Series Part 3 | Main | Daily (Okay, Weekly) Round Up: April 10, 2007 »

April 06, 2007



"The digital divide, as it is called, is perhaps the new identity politic upon which some people will gain privilege and some people will be oppressed. Considering that the digital divide follows race, class, and national lines, the fight for social justice must continue to focus on identity and access to technology." This is a problem that needs some serious work to be fixed. Too many companies are "redlining" which areas and communities will be wired for high speed internet. We need a national public policy that, like universal service did for the telephone, requires the build out of affordable, high speed networks for everyone. Other countries solve this problem with tax incentives and other programs to make sure this gets done. We need to do that also. Some say it is enough to give people access through libraries and community centers. That is a start but is not close to the same as providing access to people's homes. There are ideas on this at


Really great post Daren, a much-needed shift back to the bigger picture and particularly the focus upon identifying the myriad components that might determine quality of process and value of any possible outcomes.

I would like to look specifically at identity.

As you so rightly stated “diversity of identity and the benefits it brings to problem solving can even help foster peace, dialogue, and understanding over conflict.” Identity might also be considered the one factor that in truth covers all three of the broader interpretations of diversity you have used.

Identity and worldview are probably so deeply intertwined that any attempt to separate them would be an exercise in futility unless one is open to considering the deeper meanings of life through spirituality, religion and the like. Having said that I do believe that worldviews, yours, or mine are indeed individualized experiences of the world that in fact we presume exists as an empirical reality whereas in reality it doesn’t. Dialog and acceptance must then be the cornerstones of any attempt to build a foundation on which to build anything of meaningful and lasting value.

CS might possibly be considered as a cultural/societal manifestation of a phenomenon that pushes back at the attempt to delineate, marginalize or bind individuals into a consensus trance through materialistic and economic imperatives.

The advent of technologies that give voice to “individuals as a group” who can throw of the shackles of “gender, sexuality, race, nationality, economic class, (dis)ability, religion, etc” is indeed, in my opinion, why the term CS has struck a cord, not as a definition that drives but as definition that suits to describe a cultural process already underway.

The digital divide is just another barrier to those who have voice but are not heard. Unless those who are connected through community, virtual or other wise, economics, professional status, the list is endless, can slip of the mantle of superiority/self need and truly penetrate the issues to exact change for those who are voiceless, they will remain so.

There can be no question that CS as a process and vehicle for maximizing just another wealth producing process is going to take place. The tight focus upon journalism, software development, social/virtual communities and suchlike is to be expected. The question is how can the present technologies and CS be used for the opposite? Will CS be harnessed to make the political, social and cultural changes that will impact the long list of challenges we face upon this earth?

Daren’s last sentence “crowdsourcing may be a laboratory to improve upon all of these things” is profound and I hope it doesn’t get lost in the push and jostle of the crowd!

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Earlier this morning I received an email from Christine Maynard, a writer and consultant from Natchez, Louisiana. I'm not sure if she heard me on the radio or came across crowdsourcing in some other way, but she raises an issue I've been wanting to dig into ever since publishing the original crowdsourcing article over two years ago: To what degree could the crowd lend its brainpower to the process of, say, diagnosing or suggesting treatments for diseases?

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