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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April 01, 2009


Jason Breed

Well written article! Goes to the fact that companies/Gov't often overlook the engagement side of Social media in place of the "much easier to plan for/implement" technology side. Big Lesson here is that throwing technology at a problem doesn't solve it. Needs well thought strategy with contingencies. Google/other vendors may be good at technology. Needs a proven solution for enterprise that encompases more than technology.

Gordon McDowell

Very nice piece.

Not being American I only skimmed the postings on Obama's campaign site and then It was obvious the campaign had managed to tap into a level of creativity and intelligence that has not yet managed to harness.

As frustrating as it may be to web savvy Americans to see such technologies imprecisely applied, Canadians have yet to see ANY innovation by our government in regards to crowdsourcing a national agenda or solutions.

I'm hopeful we'll look south once you've identified a truly effective model.


2009 marks the 10th anniversary of the Cluetrain Manifesto, whose 95 "theses" anticipated the brave new world of networked consumers/citizens - talking WITH and amongst one another...and talking back TO companies and, now, elected leaders. Of course, one of the underlying premises of Cluetrain is that you can't *control* the conversation, and should vigorously check your impulse to do so at the door.

The possibility that the people taking part in the conversation may veer far from the range of Chef's Suggestion discussion items is both one of the attractions (and unintended consequences) of social media. Actually, that's when you know it's working.

These (and related topics) are among the ideas we explored at Government 2.0 Camp in Washington DC last weekend. Attendees included White House New Media Director Macon Phillips ...and an intimate gathering of about 500 other friends.

"Marriage" counseling? Perhaps. Divorce? Not an option in 2009.

People taking an active role in their government(s)? Now that's change everyone can believe in.

Emma Dozier

Hey...isn't that whole listening and disseminating thing Congress's job? I think only the enacting part is the Executive's.

Isn't the core values of "social media" all the core values of a democracy?

So, hey Congress, could you get on that? And hey social media/tech/communication excitable crowd, could you lessen the pressure on the White House? And hey Mr. President, could you look at your job description? Thanks guys.


Great post. Some of the best thoughts I've read on the topic over the past week or so.

I agree with Emma that the "excitable crowd" should lay off the White House a bit, and that it's congress who should start listening to and analyzing their constituents' thoughts and feelings. Doing this kind of thing on a national level is bound to get "hijacked" or result in some really boring and obvious questions.

As I mentioned to Macon during his session at Government 2.0 Camp, the real indicator of success to my mind as a taxpayer and voter is the quality of the answers given. Were people satisfied with the responses?

I certainly wasn't happy with the flippant response to the legalization issue. I know that legalization isn't a top issue on American minds, but the ~5,630 Mexican drug war related deaths in 2008 probably merit a considered response.


Very interesting regardless of the title, more like a headache during the honeymoon, I hope. The points you make are substantial enough to warrant pretty close scrutiny although Obama’s White House Media Director Macon Phillips probably has too much on his plate to penetrate the details.

What I find annoying is the attempt to enter into conversation about War on Drugs is either by belittling a portion of those who use or sidestepping ones personal relationship to the issue because of ones own fear of contamination, not by ones community but the professional relationships that, after all, pay the mortgage.

It is a serious issue and the war on drugs has damaged this country very badly. Just look at the prison stats, corruption of our major institutions like the CIA and . . . . . . the list is long, to long.

Why is it that this issue does not come up on any list? That is, most likely, the crux of the problem!

I suspect that the greatest numbers of regular users are not pot heads but mature individuals who because of completely inane laws can’t surface, whilst the country goes to pot!

Regards, Alan


I don't understand with that divorce! Why is it allowed?

@planetrussell, perhaps you're correct.

Bob Greenberg

It seems that they are only looking for a better means of transmitting information in a broad way (which is a good thing) as well as taking in ideas. In other words - one way discussions. They don't seem to be focusing on creating an interactive dialogue. One idea would be for the White House to moderate a true dialogue on an important issue- say health care. Rather than focus on the entire issue they could focus it on one or two vexing issues and then ask people for their input and to formulate a viable approach. To succeed they would have to have some of their health care experts participate in the process. They would also have to be transparent up front in saying that the results might not be used in the final policy but that the input will be part of the policy deliberations. If they do something like that one thing they will have to be prepared for is the massive amount of participation. That will not be an easy thing to manage properly - although there are some tools that can help. Just my two cents.

John R. Sedivy

Great article; I agree that participation is key. Most miss this point and believe that you can setup a discussion board or some form of social media and the rest will just happen. Participation takes time, however it is time well spent - participation sparks dialogue which creates interest, which leads to greater involvement and that's when the magic happens.

Dr. Joseph

Political deafness? I think it's called political tolerance.


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