About Me

Crowdsourcing: A Definition

  • I like to use two definitions for crowdsourcing:

    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.

The Rise of Crowdsourcing

  • Read the original article about crowdsourcing, published in the June, 2006 issue of Wired Magazine.
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March 18, 2007



The “spare cycle” hypothesis is interesting.
The AZ team will be able to collect information regarding cycle time contributed by each participant do the numbers work and most probably find some approximate groupings. The “cycle time flux rate” might be hard to assess or predict and will be difficult to apply to any empirical data. I really like Amanda’s comment “the numbers are just half of the story.” I suspect though, just for that reason that the hypothesis might remain such. Existing research does well until the human factor is considered. What is the other half of the story?

The sociological/psychological aspects of this venture might be examined from aspects of diffused responsibility, family situation, social status, access, education, geographical and cultural issues and myriad other such points of view. The above approach might be considered centripetal in nature. Of greater interest but much more difficult to come to grips with would be the opposite.

Over the past months, as crowdsourcing (CS) has become a more widely accepted term, there has been a great deal of commentary and examination.
There has yet to be any serious commentary regarding the phenomenology of CS.

There can be no question that CS is going to have an impact upon both the societal and economic landscape. What does this newly constituted social form/impulse/activity tell us about the changing role we have as individuals, within the group, to economic, social, and most importantly, personal imperatives
The various observable manifestations are symptomatic of what? The roots might be easily excavated but once one tries to identify from whence the impulse originates empirical data becomes less than useful.

Would the key to any such question be found, not in the breaking down of data but in a worldview that recognizes each individual’s participation as fundamental to their unfolding biography. Might the technological and social changes that have enabled so many to participate be better examined through a worldview that recognizes laws of causality rather than spare cycles!

O, by the way, do super contributors glow?


Personally, I don't think Crowdsourcers (is that a word?) are volunteering "spare cycles" analagous to the SETI project at all.

SETI utilises spare CPU cycles to crunch or process enormous numbers, etc., in a parasitic relationship to the giver of those cpu cycles. Sure, there is a philanthropic input to "Science" by those contributors to the SETI project, but they personally gain nothing other than an anonymous warm glow.

Crowdsourcers, in all the different models I've seen, are gaining something back from their inputs of time, energy, creative problem solving etc.

I suggest that even the lowest level of unpaid tasks that Crowdsourcers undertake, gives back something tangible by way of recognition of effort or personal satisfaction for adding value to the combined efforts of their peers.

I hardly think any of the crowdsourcing host platforms would like to think of themselves as a parasite on individual human talent or task completion.

So, my question is: Why would one want to find the lowest common denominator of human "spare cycles"?

Surely, the question is: What are the myriad ways in which the human VALUE of volunteer effort can be measured in terms of :
a) INPUT - to the host project
b)OUTPUT - as the volunteer's individual "reward"
ie, not hard $$$ but benefits in kind.

Hope that's seen as a positive suggestion and not a negative comment.

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We're speculating that it falls somewhere between 5 and 10 hours a week, but that's guesswork.You can bet we'll have a better idea in 12 weeks.

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