Wired – The Rise of Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing has dramatically disrupted many industries and has become the new pool of cheap labor. One such example mentioned in the article was of freelance photographer Mark Harmel. Mark had to do far more work in 2006 than he did in 2004. With the creation of iStockphoto and other stock photo companies, his work has been marginalized as there’s a greater supply of people who can do similar work to him for less money. At the same time, there’s a lot of opportunity too as seen by the “packager.” Wired focuses on MTV using Youtube videos, but I think recently companies like Netflix and Spotify have shown the value of packaging entertainment into a cheaper subscription style service. All companies have reacted to the internet by packaging their services together to create something that isn’t easily duplicated by free means. Some companies though need to be careful with packaging though if it becomes more of a hindrance than making their lives easier. The beauty of companies like Netflix and even Amazon is they allow a greater flow of information and create a greater free market. Crowdsourcing through the internet in reality is opening up the potential supply of ideas and products, which will increase competition. Most recently, Microsoft has used crowd sourcing to find bugs in their software. Paying out a $100k bounty is a lot cheaper than having to pay millions to acqui-hire top talent from start-ups. Instead, they can solve their problems at a set cost without long term commitment.


IBM – Jamming for a smarter planet: Insights and ideas from nearly 2,000 students and faculty worldwide

IBM used to a “jam” to create new ideas through crowdsourcing. A jam is most simply an internet based platform for conducting conversations through brainstorming. The jam was used to identify potential areas of improvement in education, environment, energy, healthcare, and urban policy. The jam mostly involved students, but faculty, administrators, and government officials also were involved. I found the study interesting, but also somewhat biased. Obviously students will blame the universities for not preparing them for the workforce, but the truth is that many people need to learn on the job itself. The only thing universities could have done differently is require more internships, which surely would have also gotten negative feedback from students too. This is similar to a discussion I had with a colleague recently. Should universities be teaching more theory or practical skills? I think students are focusing on the lack of practical skills instead of focusing on the applicability of the theories they did learn to various jobs. I learned in the last year that what I learned in my Political Science degree was quite applicable to Marketing, Sales, and a whole other host of fields. I think with the weighting being so severely toward student participation that their views might be different after a few years in the workforce. I think the IBM study is good in the way it creates ideas, but bad in that it shows the potential for skewed results considering such a large percentage were students and not adults who have experienced the impact of their education.


Measuring Public Relations Wikipedia Engagement: How Bright is the Rule?

I was surprised to learn of the strict restrictions on PR professionals by Wikipedia. You would think they would want accurate information on the pages, especially since in reality anyone can manipulate what goes on the site anyway. As outlined in the study too, people can simply lie about who they are or hire a 3rd party to submit their edits anyway. I agree with the study that concludes that the “bright line” rule, where PR professionals cannot edit articles about their clients is highly flawed. I think that submissions need to be vetted just like any other, but the information they provide could be highly valuable and could correct outdated information. When 60% of respondents in the survey indicate that their company or a recent client’s Wikipedia article has factual errors, that is a significant problem especially when considering Wikipedia is one of the most widely used sources by the public. I personally cannot understand the positive value of the rule in this day, but this article attempts to explain the current value of the rule.



1. How do you use crowdsourcing to make your life easier?

2. How do you think the survey outcomes would have been different if more career services professionals were included as part of the jam?

3. Do you agree with the bright-line rule? If not, what changes would you make to it?


2 thoughts on “Crowdsourcing

  1. Few years ago I participated in a project that can be considered as crowdsourcing. It was a New York publisher who wanted to publish a worldwide encyclopedia of the history of documentary. The articles were written by many professionals in different parts of the world and sent by Internet. Three articles I wrote were published. The result was a very comprehensive encyclopedia of four volumes which was launched a year later. It was a good deal for the owners of the publisher as they did not have to pay big salaries or have the necessary logistics to work with so many sources. For us, the writers, it was a good deal too. We received a beautiful encyclopedia for part of the payment, some money, and our credit in the publication. For me it was a good deal because I had just come to America and I had the opportunity to work from my home, managing my time, and writing about a topic that fascinates me.

  2. That’s the beauty of crowdsourcing. It’s a winning proposition for both those trying to profit from it and those that are participants in the system. As shown in the articles, the only real losers are those whose services are no longer in demand.

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