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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June 05, 2007


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Hi, Found a cool news widget for our blogs at Now I can show the latest news on my blog. Worked like a breeze.


Hey Jeff,
I thought I'd contribute to the discussion by linking to a related Inside Higher Ed piece I read last week.

Does this sound familiar?:

"But beneath it all, one finds a sense of cultural history combining one part idyllic idealization with two parts status anxiety. [He] only appears to be facing hard questions about the new digital order. Actually he is just echoing debates on “mass society” from five or six decades ago." (McLemee, 2007).

The above is an excerpt from Scott McLemee's piece entitled "Mass Culture 2.0" where he discusses some of Michael Gorman's recent writings that are in Keen's negative and hyperbolic vein. (Gorman is former president of the American Library Association, and a CSU dean.)

Read McLemee's full article here:

One of the reader comments to McLemee's post (and to Gorman's cultural doomsdaying) echoes my thoughts so well that I'll quote it here. It's from reader (and retired professor) Edward Winslow:

" would think we were back in the 15th and 16th century after the invention (or adaptation) of the printing press when those “poor ignorant masses” of people got access to the intellect of the ages through the new mass media of visual symbols placed on the media of the time: paper. According to those in power at the time -namely, the Church — how were those “masses” of people (Mass Culture 1.0) supposed to sort out all of this new information? Well, those authoring the new mass media would tell them and they would then become the new power brokers — the Librarians". Wow!"

Now I guess it's New York Times Movie Reviewers, not Librarians, who will sort it all out for us. ;-) (ha!)

IMO, good call on Wired's part (and yours).



Hi Shazz, the McLemee article really is a wonderful contrast to the myopic take by Keen and those who believe that the transformation of culture today is anything other than human-kinds changing consciousness expressed by and reflected with whatever technology happens to be at the forefront and available.

There can be no denying that appearances, in the short run, might give way to the shrill sound of those voices who cry “all is lost” whilst they themselves will be quickly forgotten and retroactively viewed as . . . . . . . . . . . . .short sited!

It always strikes me as odd that one would want to try to separate a cultural evolution from the warp and weft of the fabric that holds and sustains it!

To be fair though, the quandary that one faces whilst trying to sort the chaff from the wheat can put fear into the heart. The so called “classical education” does appear to be a thing of the past but knowledge of Homer or Kant might not be as relevant for a future generation as the ability to create alternate existences in second life? When an impulse such as the NCLB act is holding the national educational process hostage, I am not surprised that internet technology and the myriad other contemporary advances in the virtual, software and hardware worlds present an alternate and easier target.

Are the Michael Arrington’s, Walt Mossberg’s the high priests of today’s technological culture? If they are what blows my mind is the fact that entry into the inner sanctum is no longer shaped by movers and shakers who traditionally would exert their power from the periphery whilst maintaining control over unwitting pawns. The fact is that power/insight is emanating from individuals who have, apparently, freed themselves of the traditional role of pawn to the position of kings through individual destiny and, for the most part, without the influence of cultural power brokers and moneyed institutions.

Keen and his ilk do provide some friction that is not entirely wasted. Once the differences of opinion are digested and assimilated the by-products, BS or epiphany, might be more easily identified.

Warm regards, Alan.


Hi there Alan,
Your phrase "providing some friction" is spot-on!

I must say that, independent of my personal position on any given topic, I'm always leery of these exaggerated yeas and nays because they're really arguing from the same point on the circle. Those who think that a new technology will turn our lives into utopia (I call this "jetsoning") are wrong; just as those who claim the downfall of civilization is imminent due to some new (powerful) communications widget appearing, like the printing press or the telex machine (or blogs!), are also misguided.

Thankfully, it's always much more messy, complex and interesting than that. :D



Is there anything new under the sun Shazz?

Just as in the hybrid car market, where regenerative braking is now being used to convert mechanical energy lost in braking into electricity for fuel savings, Messrs Keen and cohorts are applying much force against a cultural/technological impulse that will not be stopped.

Their energetic participation does provide grist for the mill although the by-product, sadly, does not end up as whisky but some thing more ethereal.

It allows for a closer examination of salient points that might not have otherwise been consciously penetrated.

I say three cheers for active resistance. In this case, unwitting services that must surely be considered to be the highest form of self sacrifice!

Here is an article that does reflect, albeit in a rather traditional take, shifts that are taking place.
“Bob Gaudreau recently asked some seminar attendees to draw a picture of where they work. Gaudreau is executive vice president of The Regus Group, a company that creates business centers around the world for people who work when they travel or who lack a nearby corporate office. Five years ago some people would draw an airplane, or an office cubicle, or perhaps their house, he says. But this time several participants drew pictures of their head.”

Is the CS phenomenon not only symptomatic of changes that are taking place in working relationships and the culture of work but indicative of a much more profound metamorphosis, the further individualization of the human being?




You can now read Wired's blogs on your cell phone by entering '' in the phone's web browser.

Dave Kresta

I welcome Keen's opinions and feel that attacks against him are unwarranted. Let's discuss and engage, not attack. I believe Keen is fundamentally wrong about a number of things, especially his laughable claim that professional journalists are objective whereas bloggers are simply opinion spouters. See my full analysis at:

John Eischeid

I’ve started a website for those of you that have read Keen’s book and need a place to sound off, share ideas or get some feedback: . It’s a user-generated rebuttal to the book; it uses against Keen the very same technology he loathes. Take a look, register, contribute, and – most importantly – provide citations and sources.


I read this blog every day, and this is their reaction to Andrew Keen's book:

Got to be honest, I felt the same way when I read the book.


I just saw Keen in an interview - and frankly I found him somewhat condescending towards an interviewer who asked pointed questions on the logic of his argumentation.
I found him defensive and resorting to very superficial examples to make his case. But after he admitted that he longed for the days gone by when the elite and the media owners told us what to think, I am now convinced that he should re-title his book to "The Amateur of the Cult" obviously his ideal world rests on pre-digested ideas and conformity to prescribed rules of thinking.
Glad I saw and heard him talk. I won't even waste my time borrowing his book, let alone buying it.

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