1. How would you define crowdsourcing? I would define crowdsourcing as a new and innovative way of outsourcing, whereas a job that used to be performed by employees is outsourced to a large, undefined group of people, whereby the medium used generally the internet is. Crowdsourcing is different from an ordinary outsourcing since it is a task / problem that is outsourced to an undefined public rather than to a specific, named group or to a traditional employee or supplier. Crowdsourcing further is a mix of the terms "crowd" and "outsourcing," first coined by Jeff Howe in a June 2006 Wired magazine article "The Rise of Crowdsourcing", which kind of makes the meaning behind it very clear.
2. Why does crowdsourcing require a large, "undefined community" to work? Why not a small, defined community of passionate people who you know and have worked with before or with whom you are already friends (think Facebook communities which are smaller, and defined)? As the article states, crowds are generally wise when 1. There are many decision makers, who make their decision independent of one and another 2. Participants come from diverse backgrounds 3. Where there is a mechanism that can aggregate opinions to produce a single outcome 4. The participants do not talk with one another or influence each other prior to making a decision
A large, undefined community fulfills these criteria. The participants of these communities most likely are from diverse backgrounds (#2), don’t influence each other or talk with each other prior to decision making (#4) and make their decisions independent from one and another (#1). Defined communities of passionate people who know each other from work or who are friends which each other don’t fulfill the above mentioned criteria. They probably have a similar background (work, interests,…) and might not make their decisions independent from each other, as they probably talk about it, discuss the ‘issue’ and most likely even influence each other, which can lead to “information cascade”. The independent judgment of the participants is not guaranteed and a failure made out of collective judgment might occur. To avoid this, the four above mentioned criteria should be met. However this sounds pretty easy, in a time where everybody is kind of connected to the internet this isn’t as easy as it seems. Millions of people are using the internet to blog, network, email, etc. and are connected to others, which reduces the independence of the participants and makes them more susceptible to manipulate and hysteria.
3. Can you think of other examples of crowdsourcing besides photography? Is photography a good example? What kinds of products or services might not lend themselves to crowdsourcing? The one example I was thinking of right away was Tripadvisor. Tripadvisor relies on the opinions and reviews of its members to provide information to people interested in a flight, trip or vacation. With over 40 million reviews, it has become the first port of call for many travelers. The reasons why so many people feel that the Tripadvisor crowd is reliable is a) because of its
very high number of users ( 45m+ travel reviews/opinions; 7m+ candid traveler photos) and b) because of the quality of the reviews itself. I think TripAdvisor is a good example of crowdsourcing working to create the leading travel destination. In the past, people would pick hotels on limited personal recommendations or go with the "safe" choice of big brands. Crowdsourcing allows users to pick the hotel that suits their exact preference (singles, seniors, honeymooners ... etc.) as chosen by thousands of others ( And in fact 3 of the top 5 hotels in the world are not 5 star hotels). While researching on the internet for further examples I realized that there already are hundreds of other examples, which honestly impressed me. The following three examples seemed to be very interesting to me: • Oxford English Dictionary (OED) may provide one of the...
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