The term crowd sourcing is rather generic in its own ways. Although coined for a specific function, it soon grew into being a broad term interpreted differently by every organization that has crossed its path. Therefore it might be essential to classify the different aspects of crowdsourcing and identify buckets of projects/organizations that can be put under each. Here is a small effort towards one such classification. Wikipedia in its own way has a different interpretation for the same.
Open Democracy: or Crowdvoting as Wikipedia calls it.
Ever since life began, democracy has been prevalent . Taking that to product design can hence be just an afterthought. Several organizations across the iGlobe has successfully used this method to better understand the consumer needs and interests.
ThreadLess – an online shirt design company – is yet another, taking advantage of the crowd.
In a perfect world, the underlying principles for all such organizations are the same. Users submit a product design, which is then put up for voting. When the voting number reaches a particular threshold, the product is formalized and staged. Of course the user who submitted the design gets a share of the royalty.
Skymotion and Waze are perhaps the best examples for this. Obtaining the wealth of the data provided by users to portray information. I spoke about Waze and Skymotion in my previous post.
In fact, Wikipedia, can also be viewed as one such entity leveraging the power of the crowd.
Now, the means of providing the information can be direct or indirect. In all the cases above, the information was provided by the users, consciously and hence can be termed as direct. Take the example of Google’s Flu Prediction . The trend has been graphically represented using the search terms related to flu that people search across different parts of United States. In this case, information is gathered passively and hence can be classified as indirect.
Although this term has been in existence since the early 1960s, I feel it could now fall under the umbrella of crowd sourcing. Essentially the development of the product or the software was done by the masses. The ever so popular Linux is perhaps the best example for this.
CrowdFunding or Micropatrionage:
This is one of those which has been less prevalent, but you do see pockets of such organizations cropping up all around the iGlobe. The idea again, follows along the same lines – use crowd to fund projects. Although it can be revolutionary, it does come with a pinch of salt. Whenever an individual is expected to “invest” money, however small it is, there is a sense of ownership that gets built around it. It is for this same reason that the Crowd Funding Exemption Movement was set up to successfully lobby the JOBS Act
KickStarter is one such companies, which has been rather successful in funding projects and startups through small deposits collected through their website. Most prevalent in film community for the making of independent films, for channels such as Sundance , KickStarter has been successful in harnessing the power of crowd to fund a large number of undertakings.
While examples can be drawn from all aspects of the web world, I’m hoping these broad classifications can be a good start to better define crowd sourcing. Let me know your thoughts.
Next up: Why do organizations move towards Crowd Sourcing?
While you wait, let me leave you with this interesting video on crowdsourcing.