Redefining Crowdsourcing

October 30, 2006

The introduction for the original Wired article about crowdsourcing reads:
“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.”

There are three important words in that title: outsourcing, jobs and labor. Each of these words implies that work will be rewarded financially.

If the whole premise of crowdsourcing were to be based on the premise of payment, then discussions of ‘what is crowdsourcing’ would be simple.

Digg would be nothing without it’s an active user community, but it does not pay them so it is not crowdsourcing. Wikipedia relies on volunteers to contribute content but does not pay them so it is not crowdsourcing. Amazon encourages users to write reviews of books but does not pay for them, so it is not crowdsourcing. relies on it’s user community to post news stories but does not pay them for contributions, so is not crowdsourcing. All these are examples of great user communities but they are not examples of crowdsourcing.

Mechanical Turk exists to link workers to work and pay them for it. The principle behind the site is to allow someone to post a task which they need someone else to complete. This can be because specialist knowledge is required or because it’s tedious job that someone else will be willing to do for pennies.

Cambrian House is asking for ideas for software that they can produce and sell. They ask the crowd to submit ideas, they ask the crowd to vote on the ideas and they ask the crowd to contribute work towards designing and building the final product. If you are involved in the project you get a royalty payment based on the success of the product.

iStockphoto allows you to upload your artwork, photos and videos so that others can browse and buy your work. Selling uploaded work wasn’t an after thought, it’s why the site was designed – to connect those looking for stock artwork and those looking to sell it.

Threadless is a t-shirt site that only sells designs contributed by users. Designs are uploaded and voted on with winning designs being put into production. The beauty of this being that you know a design is going to sell because the users on the site are also your customers.

The term crowdsourcing may not be around for very long if it’s definition continues to be watered down, or is it time to redefine the term?

This article was prompted by comments at Horse Pig Cow and further discussion at Billions with Zero Knowledge.


Phantom Captain Reviewed

October 26, 2006

The Phantom Captain: Art and Crowdsourcing exhibiton is getting great reviews.

Crowd Bombing

October 26, 2006

Paylancers has an interesting post about an NYTimes article discussing Google bombing in the US elections. By encouraging bloggers to link to negative articles about a candidate, they trick Google into displaying this as a relevant result.

While gaming the system and Google bombing is frowned upon it is certainly not beyond the power of the crowd.

Mainstream Crowdsourcing?

October 25, 2006

Crowdsourcing Goes Mainstream first reads like a beginners guide to crowdsourcing, introducing crowdsourcing companies and linking to crowdsourcing articles, which is being done by everyone these days!

The article then goes on to make an interesting observation about the ease and accessibility of crowdsourcing:

Crowdsourcing opens up industries to amateurs, hobbyists and enthusiasts, giving them an opportunity to profit from their talents and build experience without needing to grease their way up the corporate pole.

Will the lack of office politics be the real attraction to crowdsourcing?

IdeaWarz Finalists

October 25, 2006

The finalists in the first ever Cambrian House Idea Warz Golden Hammer Tournament – and they deserve an award just for surviving a competition with that name(!) – are Film Funder and Spoil My Spouse, both of which looked like very strong contenders from the start.

The winner of the long named contest is going to be announced at the Web2.0 Conference in San Francisco on November 7. So there’s a few more weeks to wait. I wonder if Guy Kawasaki will be passing on the white laptop at the conference.

If you want be one of the contenders in the next lengthy titled competition, sign up at Cambrian House and submit your idea.

Vote for Your Cambrian House Council

October 25, 2006

I’ve had the honour of being nominated for a seat on the Cambrian House Council.

What is it?

The Council was created to support and represent community members who have questions, feedback, or grievances that need addressing within the Cambrian House community.

And who is it?

The Council will consist of five people. Two will be Cambrian House representatives, and three will be independent community members. Community members will be voted in, and serve fixed terms (typically six months).

Any why should you include me in your voting?

Each member of Cambrian House (join here) has 3 votes to cast for the independent community members. If I was selected for The Council I would continue to report on the events surrounding Cambrian House with the impartiality I have maintained this far. I think the whole ethos behind Cambrian House is inspiring and as an active member of this community I have as much interest in making it work as anyone else.

Read previous comments on Cambrian House and Vote for The Council. A vote for ctrlaltphillipe is vote well cast.

YouTube – Built On Crowdsourcing

October 17, 2006

Steve Rubel at MicroPersuasion urges creative companies to embrace creative crowdsourcing as a way of giving customers what they want.

He also credits the success of YouTube and it’s acqusition, to crowdsourcing:

Crowdsourcing is one reason YouTube was such an attractive acquisition for Google. Marketers by the boatload are rushing to launch campaigns where consumers, not the advertising agency alone, determine what goes into a television ad. The TV nets have been at it even longer. Reality television and text-message voting for American Idol are at their heart, crowdsourcing.