Crowd sourcing

You have heard the phrases, “Many hands make light work” and “Two heads are better than one.”  Crowd sourcing uses just such philosophy and has become a very real and important business idea. Let’s take a look at what crowd sourcing is how it can be used and what is benefits and drawbacks may be.

Jeff Howe, a contributing editor to Wired magazine, first coined the term “crowd sourcing” in a June 2006 article and writes the blog Crowd sourcing is the process of getting work or funding, usually online, from a crowd of people. The word is a combination of the words ‘crowd’ and ‘outsourcing’. The idea is to take work and outsource it to a crowd of workers. By canvassing a large crowd of people for ideas, skills, or participation, the quality of content and idea generation will be superior.

Crowd sourcing can be used in many different way funding projects or getting a large project done by many hands.  Crowd funding is when a business or educational project is funded by individuals, online contributors or investors.  Most crowd funding is done via web sites which list projects, and provide a means for donors to commit.  In educational and nonprofit outreach, crowd sourcing is a form of engagement, such as participating in an online course, collecting photos of butterflies for a citizen-science project, uploading old photos for a community history project, deciphering sentences from old scanned manuscripts, playing protein folding games to help scientists discover new ways to fight diseases, or participating in online discussions. One of the leading sites is Kickstarter, which since their launch in spring 2009, has funded over $417 million, funding over 36,000 creative projects.

While Crowd sourcing has it’s strong points it also has it’s weak spots in regards to quality and commitment.  Crowd sourcing can improve productivity and creativity while minimizing labor and research expenses. Using the Internet to solicit feedback from an active and passionate community of customers can reduce the amount of time spent collecting data through formal focus groups or trend research. On the flip side crowds are not employees, so executives can’t expect to control them. Following through with non-cash compensations and patience for non employees can prove difficult.  For more information on Crowd Sourcing please visit . . . CBS News,or Crowdsourcing.