Thursday, 12 August 2010

Crowdsourcing

After admitting that crowdsourcing was a new concept for me, I now have my head firmly stuck in the book of the same name by Jeff Howe.

It doesn’t take much reading to recognise a phenomenon that has been growing for some time. Development of the Linux operating system is perhaps the best known of the many-hands-make-light-work idea, but there are many more. Software development. Logo design. Computer time. It seems there is a vast underworld of worker bees doing stuff outside of the normal business model, just for the sheer joy of being involved.

What comes across most compellingly when you check out each of the examples is that these people are all doing something they love. Programming. Designing. Writing. Whatever. They don’t see it as work, but as a privilege to be involved in.

It seems to me that there are two really important ideas that come out of this “oh, my goodness, what a brilliant idea crowdsourcing is” thing:

1. When people do something they love, and are good at, they produce excellent results
2. When like-minded people get together to do something they love, and are good at, they produce amazingly excellent results

Unsurprisingly, others have read the book and are clambering onto the crowdsourcing bandwagon. Large companies (Dell, Google, and I’m sure many others) are taking advantage of something that clearly has benefit to their bottom line if they can get it right.

But you don’t have to be Dell or Google to make use of this idea. The idea of managed collaboration was highlighted in a comment to a post just a few days ago. Whether the people you are collaborating with are in the next cubicle, the next town, or several routers away on another continent hardly matters. What matters is bringing people together to create something more extraordinary than anyone could produce on their own. Technology is as beautiful as nature sometimes.

As an aside, if you are reading this and have an opinion or two on anything you have read, leave a comment. Whilst my merry band of readers might not quite fit the definition of a crowd, they do massively enhance and expand the value to everyone by adding, challenging and commenting.

4 comments:

  1. It's interesting how us oldies get very excited about all of this - when actually it's just one of the signs and symptoms of the new 'flat' world our children will be living in. Personally, i am very interested in crowdsourcing and how we build new business models around these tech driven opportunities that have collaboration and expert communities at their core. I think its a mistake to think that crowsourcing isn't/can't/won't be monetarised. Check out the mashable blog's guide to creative uses for crowdsourcing, a little bit old now but still useful for inspiration, http://mashable.com/2010/05/26/creative-crowdsourcing/.

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  2. This article was published today in the UK's New Media Age on how crowdsourcing is being applied to creative Marketing so there is a lot of mileage in it and it may become simply part of the way things are done. http://bit.ly/NMAaug12

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  3. Jenny - love the Mashable article. So many examples, so much opportunity ...

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  4. Anonymous - thanks for adding to the conversation. I can't get to the NM article, but I agree, the internet + people's passions are opening up whole new areas. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

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