01 June 2008 ~ 4 Comments                                       

Part 1: Figuring out crowdsourcing: What does it mean? What’s working? What isn’t?

I lack a specific definition or term for what I have been writing about here — mainly because there isn’t one. “Crowdsourcing” comes close, but it is a bit constraining in that it connotes outsourcing work to the crowd, which is only part of the story. Thus, in light of that, I will be posting a series covering the various aspects of whatever the hell this is that I am talking about with examples of each portion in action. It will by no means be exhaustive, but it should provide a good overview of some interesting orgs that are leveraging these principles.

So, let’s set out with a few of the current names for it and related concepts that feed into it:

The overarching themes revolve around: Crowdsourcing; Outside Innovation; Innovation Networks; the Wisdom of crowds; and Customer co-creation.

These larger initiatives are supported by: Web 2.0/Social Computing; Mass Customization; the Long Tail; Open Innovation; Peer production; Prediction markets; Voting and ratings; Competitions and prizes; Lead users; Transparent business practices; and Democratized content creation and distribution.

(Don’t forget, Sami Viitamaki has a pretty generalized but effective take on how to think about Crowdsourcing in particular with his FLIRT model.)

So, going forward I am going to touch on a variety of topics that will hopefully clear things up a bit. Some of the topics I will cover:

  • Crowdfundingistock_000004727096small.jpg
  • Prediction markets
  • Crowdsourcing: Graphic design
  • Customer co-creation and crowdsourcing: New product development
  • Home Fabbing and Crowdsourcing: Physical product design and development
  • Crowdsourcing: Content creation
  • Crowd feedback; or, Business starts to listen
  • Crowdsourcing: Problem solving
  • Many hands make light work: The atomization of work resulting in the completion of massive jobs.
  • Crowdcooperation

All of this stuff is connected somehow, is undergirded by similar philosophies, tools and technology, and methodologies — and I love geeking out about it. There are some powerful changes hidden in all of this and, while many of the concepts have been with us and operating for some time — centuries even — only recently has a confluence of developments led to the ability to really harness it all.

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4 Responses to “Part 1: Figuring out crowdsourcing: What does it mean? What’s working? What isn’t?”

  1. Liz Moise 5 June 2008 at 8:36 am Permalink

    Hi Tom,
    Great post, it’s fantastic to see all the buzz around open innovation these days, people are really catching on! I am the Marketing Manager at InnoCentive. If you want any further info on our prize-based model, feel free to contact me! Here’s a bit of background: InnoCentive.com is the global innovation marketplace where creative minds go to solve important challenges. InnoCentive Seekers, commercial, government and non-profit organizations, who collectively spend billions of dollars on R&D, submit complex problems to the InnoCentive Marketplace where more than 140,000 engineers, scientists, inventors, business people, and research organizations in more than 175 countries are invited to solve them. Solvers who deliver the most innovative solutions receive financial awards ranging up to US$1,000,000


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