Thursday, May 25, 2006

Crowdsourcing

I was listening to Mohammad Yunus talk about the beginnings of microcredit on NPR . Though principally very different, it seems to have much in common with crowdsourcing

Whereas in microlending, a large number of people may chip in to raise money for a poor farmer to buy a cow, crowdsourcing is about a large number of people producing goods and services on their spare time that are orders of magnitude cheaper than commercial alternatives. In both cases the crowd offers a better value proposition to the buyer than an individual (the village moneylender in the case of the farmer) or an institution ( a corporation trying to license stock images). Both have to do with the strength in numbers and how sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

How crowdsourcing is different from outsourcing is aptly summarized in the Wired article :
“Outsourcing is when I hire someone to perform a service and they do it and that’s the end of the relationship. That’s not much different from the way employment has worked throughout the ages. We’re talking about bringing people in from outside and involving them in this broadly creative, collaborative process. That’s a whole new paradigm.”

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