Crowdsourcing

By SamuelRose, published at 10 May 2007 - 8:12pm, last updated 10 years 13 weeks ago.

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Back in January of this year I blogged on smartmobs.com about an interesting blog posting from Jeff Jarvis.

The idea that I talked about at the time, inspired by Jarvis' post was that:

...on the" individual" level, we want to control the things that we create (and, that if we can't, we'll go elsewhere). On the "collective" level, we "create as we consume" collectively, and that the "crowd" itself owns the "wisdom of the crowd". If someone tries to "own" this crowd-wisdom generated from consumption, they make it less valuable by trying to disconnect it from larger networks to control it.

This shift in the way that things are designed and used was inspired by the success of open source software and the emergence of "Peer to Peer"(P2P) paradigms in ever growing areas of human problem solving. Some of the roots of these concepts extend back to work done at MIT, such as Gershenfeld's Personal fabrication ideas, Frank Piller's Mass Customization work, and Eric Von Hippel's Democratizing Innovation. Yochai Benkler also talks about commons based peer production concepts in his new book "The Wealth of Networks".

Recently Wired Magazing published an article titled "The Rise of Crowdsourcing". This article looks at how this phenomenon is beginning to be taken seriously by people on all scales of the business world, from small independent business people to huge corporations and their R&D departments, television programming producers, and more. A quote from Jeff Howe's Wired article:

Remember outsourcing? Sending jobs to India and China is so 2003. The new pool of cheap labor: everyday people using their spare cycles to create content, solve problems, even do corporate R & D. …

Many companies growing up in the internet age were designed to take advantage of the networked world. But now the productive potential of millions of plugged-in enthusiasts is attracting the attention of old-line businesses, too. … Technological advances in everything from product design software to digital video cameras are breaking down the cost barriers that once separated amateurs from professionals. Hobbyists, part-timers, and dabblers suddenly have a market for their efforts, as smart companies in industries as disparate as pharmaceuticals and television discover ways to tap the latent talent of the crowd. The labor isn’t always free, but it costs a lot less than paying traditional employees. It’s not outsourcing; it’s crowdsourcing.

See also: P2P Wiki "Crowdsourcing"