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Crowdsourcing: Who is hot?

Posted by: Jessi Hempel on May 21, 2007

Last summer I wrote about crowdsourcing for our innovation and design quarterly, IN. I chronicled attempts by InnoCentive and IBM, Cambrian House and Current TV to harness the collective energy of relative amateurs to create economic or intellectual value. First intro’ed by Jeff Howe in Wired, it’s essentially a fancy - and fad-y - word to describe a real phenomenon that is shaping the Web. Jeff’s definition, direct from his blog:

The White Paper Version: Crowdsourcing is the act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call.

The Soundbyte Version: The application of Open Source principles to fields outside of software.

We’re preparing the next issue of IN and we may include a new round of these sites to pay attention to. Which ones are the most promising? Give me a heads up, and I’ll check them out.

Reader Comments

Pete Mortensen

May 22, 2007 1:00 PM

True crowdsourcing is a relatively rarefied thing. Digg is the king right now, to the point that they're running up against some of the limits of the arena. A perfect example of that was when the code to crack the encyption on HD-DVDs got posted, and Digg tried to squelch it. Soon, every single new post to Digg contained the code. They discovered how hard it is to actually control a situation when you truly give people the freedom to post whatever they want.

Oddly enough, Something Awful actually occurs to me. It's a notoriously crude website and message board community, but they also have incredibly talented and very funny members. As an example of the latter, they did a really hilarious open call for movie posters designs transforming movies like "Sleepless in Seattle" into grind-house horror flicks.

The thread might be a bit edgy for work, so I'll link to it and then directly to one of the posters.



It's a pretty insular community, but they have a tremendous reach into other web communities.

Who else is making this thing work for them? Other than the truly celebrated (YouTube, Flickr), no one is standing out to me this year...

David Armano

May 22, 2007 6:24 PM

Hiya Jessi

First off, congrats on launching NEXT. So as far as crowdsourcing goes, one of the examples that I can think of off the top of my head is Dell which has ideastorm:

I don't know how many of their user generated ideas have come to fruition, but if you go by the numbers the site sees some pretty solid activity.

Good luck with the NEXT initiative. Bruce was asking for some feedback and I provided some over at his place.

PS, will comments here support URLs at some point? Links = currency. :)

Jessi Hempel

May 22, 2007 10:51 PM

Pete, David - thanks for the thoughtful comments on the posts and on the larger question of the blog's design. We're going to introduce some tweaks this week. I get to see them on Friday and I'm excited. I'll point out the url issue in the comments, good point David. Popping over to Bruce's virtual real estate now to see what else you have to say...

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What comes next? The Bloomberg Businessweek Innovation and Design blog chronicles new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.

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