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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December 05, 2008



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Jim Bennette - CEO of TheCrowd

I love "cloudworker" although the term is probably bigger than the old term of "telecommuter". Where telecommuter is a term used for an employee of a company who simply works from home I see cloudworker as term used when you have several almost anonymous contributors to a much larger effort. You can almost picture a company like GM who allows credentialed people to "clock in" at will to contribute to an effort and the contributors get paid for their time.


TheCrowd is gathering........


Hmm... interesting that you bring up anonymity Jim. That's one of the trickier things to analyze and I worried about it for a while. My current position: anonymity depends on where you are looking from. Jeff has anonymity in the definition of crowdsourcing, which makes sense if you are looking at it from the point of view of a CEO or something.

But from "inside" the subculture of a particular crowd, there is a lot of micro-celebrityhood going on I think. But the basic structure is still crowd. I think that captures things more accurately than Seth Godin's notion of 'Tribe' (which he tried to frame as a different entity, but his concept doesn't hang together well).

Jim Bennette - CEO of TheCrowd

Good point. That actually makes a lot of sense that there would be micro-celebrityhood as that really goes the concept of the wisdom of crowds; you have those who are very educated on a topic and those that are less educated and the combination is the "wisdom".

Chris Witt

When I first saw a cloud used in computer network diagrams to represent the net, I didn't like it. It seemed nebulous (pun intended), hard to pin down, insubstantial. Now, I kind of like the image precisely because it can't be confined or set in stone. I could warm to the term "cloudworker," although I doubt I will ever describe myself that way to my clients (mostly business executives).

I'm not a telecommuter, because I'm not, in Jim's terms, a company employee working from home. But I don't think I qualify as a cloudworker. I use the net primarily as a tool and as a resource, and I'm only beginning to see it as an interactive community. Is there a term for someone like me, somewhere between a telecommuter and a cloudworker?

Jim Bennette - CEO of TheCrowd

Chris - maybe you would be considered a "cloudwanderer" for the time being!!!!


Chris, you work from home, but do you use cloud apps, non personal PC based usage, as a central part of the work you do?

I wonder if the term Cloudworker will become a commonly used term and your point, a mature professional will most likely hesitate to use the term, is well taken. Sad as it might be, you will most probably be left using the term self employed!

“What happens when on-demand technology meets the crowd?” Jeff, does the distinction “the power of work-anywhere-anytime technology” really suffice to be called a cloudworker?

I would suggest that unless cloud apps, rather than personal PC usage, that are available are being predominately used to support ones employment/business, the term might not make sense because it is too loose a definition.

Every PC user is now using the cloud, or should one say the internet, to some degree.

On the other end of the spectrum, this term “white trash data center customers” is interesting!



Or this: (CFW) Cloud-Feature-Worker: Nicholas Carr suggests: “We certainly need a nifty abbreviation for the merging of cloud services into traditional PC software, so let me suggest CaaF, for Cloud-as-a-Feature.




On-demand technology is pretty pervasive, so I wouldn't restrict the description to those whose 'foreground' work relies on cloud apps. Think about background stuff like IM, VoIP etc. These are cloud delivered and are the canvas on which the other work is done (whether it is client side MS-Word, or SaaSy Google Docs. And don't forget VPNs. The very fact of going through a VPN I think makes you a cloudworker, since your network position is obscured and virtualized :)

Chris: your post makes me wonder. When enough team members go 'virtual' is the nominal 'center' of things different (other than the fact that you are hard-wired inside the firewall as opposed to VPNed in). Socially, if you have a distributed team and the rest of your workgroup is VPNing in, your own personal work culture also becomes cloudy.


Chris Witt

Venkat: For work I use the internet primarily for email and research. I access the intranet of some clients (using SharePoint?), when I coach a team (could be 20 or 30 of us) preparing an oral proposal for a large contract. I have a website, through which I produce a monthly ezine. And I've just recently started a blog. I've also recently put some energy into linked-in.

I couldn't do my work without email. For my book alone, I worked remotely with a coauthor, exchanging emails and draft chapters. (I did much of my research on the internet.) I've never met my agent face to face. (She's in LA, I'm in San Diego.) I work with my editor, publisher, and publicist (all in NYC), and with a pr agency (somewhere in Florida) almost entirely through email. And now I'm working with another set of people in London, since a UK publisher bought the foreign rights.

I guess I'd doing quite a bit through the internet. I just feel inept doing it. Like a stranger in a strange land, I'm trying to figure out the lay of the land and the rules.


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