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.
Blog powered by Typepad

« Solar Stormwatch | Main | One Book, One Twitter: A Status Update »

March 18, 2010



Great idea, Jeff! Count me in :) I guess some sort of a framing post, data collection, and analysis scheme will need to be figured out?

"How the Steel Was Tempered" by Nikolai Ostrovskii would be one I would recommend. Of course, my must read would be "Crowdsourcing", which could not be more appropriate for this endeavor.


David Adams

Like it Jeff,

Im in, in any shape or form, but don't want to wait for June, and don't think the devil is in the details, devil is in starting this beauty of an idea. I think looking at any old book through this lens could be real fun, not really all about the book after all. Looking forward to it.

Let me know if you need help,



Brilliant! I almost can't believe no one's thought of this before now. Agree with Dave that this can probably start sooner than June. Doesn't need to be perfect. We can start small and then scale. I especially love the idea of an international project/discussion. My suspician, however, is that one book/ one Twitter will at least start off being English and US centric but we can learn as we go how to improve. And it will be good to get people READING and discussing. I'd love to trade off between fiction and non-fiction works.

Thanks again for sharing this idea. :) Excited to see where it leads us.


Wolfgang Reinhardt

Cool idea. You can count men in. As I'm from Germany I also would agrre on the point that the translation into many languages would be a key point to worldwide participation. Despite the bible seems to be available in all languages, I think it's not appropriate here. But what about Saint-Exupery's Little Prince (available in 160 languages, short and easy to read)...



What a wonderful idea, Jeff!

I may suggest Elias Canetti's classic "Crowds and Power" from 1960.

It starts with "There is nothing that man fears more than the touch of the unknown. He wants to SEE what is reaching towards him, and to be able to recognize or at least classify it. Man always tend to avoid physical contact with anything strange. In the dark, the fear of an unexpected touch can mount to panic. Even clothes give insufficient security: it is easy to tear them and pierce through to the naked, smooth, defenseless flesh of the victim."

... and it ends with "The system of commands is acknowledged everywhere. It is perhaps most articulated in armies, but there is scarcely any sphere of civilized life where commands do not reach and none of us they do not mark. Their threat of death is the coin of power, and here it is all too easy to add coin to coin and amass wealth. If we would master power we must face command openly and boldly, and search for means to deprive it of its sting."

Looking forward to experience the beauty of the crowd,



Maybe it's worth checking out how the folks at infinite
summer (read and tweeted David Foster Wallace's Infinite
Jest managed. Granted, IJ is probably more complex than something you'd
want to start with (and not translated) but given its complexity might be a useful object lesson in how the discussions work.

Love the idea can't wait to join in!



I like the idea. In the spirit of Crowdsourcing, selecting a book that is in the public domain and available through and similar sites would eliminate many financial and geographic barriers.

Great idea -- if successful on any level would be a great example to show those who disdain Twitter as frivolous that it can be about so much more that "What I ate for breakfast." Will be tough to come up with the selection so I think it will take some time. But worth it! Looking forward to it.

Belinda Darcey

Love the concept. Maybe ask that speed readers use a hashtag like #spoiler alert? In the spirit of democracy, a book that is in free e-book format would be truly accessible and (bonus) would avoid the idea being lobbied/hijacked by book publishers the way the Oprah Club is, DRM hassles with e-readers, etc. i.e. a classic from 19th century that is in the public domain for fiction (Twain, Dickens), or a free e-book for something contemporary.


Great idea! I work in a library and our "Valley Reads" program was less than spectacular...difficult to get the "crowd" together. Twitter is perfect for this.

I'd suggest Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. It captures the theme to eliminating barriers and becoming visible in the mainstream.


I suggest selecting a new book that is only out in hardcover. This way the project will also generate financial support for the author. Crowdsourcing can both enrich the culture and undermine the financial foundation of creators. It would be great to use the practice to perform a double good.


i love the idea! i'm in. i'll definitely retweet and attempt to bring the concept to the attention of some local bookstores, they would make great advocates for this experiment in the physical world. additionally, i'd like to suggest reading something by a living author, as it might be fun if he or she chimed in (in the right spirit, we would hope). given our attempt to find something that has been translated into several languages, i'd like to suggest a title by Paulo Coelho, who is also very active in the twitterverse.

Seamus Condron

Great, mad idea. If you need any help orchestrating. I'm in.

Dr. Carin Bondar

I think it's a fantastic idea! If my book was chosen I would pledge a free E Copy to everyone involved. It's a fun read about the circumstances of the 'Human Species' in the animal kingdom. Looking forward to hearing more!


This is just the coolest idea, I'm so in. Can't wait to see what suggestions people come up with (bonus: crowdsourced reading list). Thinking of titles...


I would be very interested in participating... I think whatever book is chosen should have a wide-ranging appeal...


Check out Canada Reads organized by CBC for an example of this taken to the national scale:

will have to give some thought to what book(s) to recommend given that Twitter really is international... would be cool to have some poetry on the list, though.


Love this idea, Jeff. Count me in. Ellen


Love love love the idea! I´m from Mexico City. Count me in. I will be sending some mails and retweets to make this happen.
The only problem would be if some stupid guy decides to tweet the end of the book. How would you manage that?


jenn topper

I hate to be the big dick here, but I just can't get behind this because this great, communitarian idea will be hijacked by the lumbering publishing industry. This one great chance for an independent writer to break through the walls; or for an unknown mainstream-published writer to gain the visibility s/he needs to make it, is going to inevitably be the sole objective of the industry to own. They will lobby, claw, fight, and pay to have this opportunity. It'll lose credibility among the huge population of independent writers and the readers who enjoy non-formulaic works. Hey, I would love for my books to be chosen, but what are my chances, right? R-E-M-O-T-E. And that will alienate many writers.

It saddens me to think that I could be so cynical. (But hey, I write a blog on the topic of the dying publishing industry!)

Of course I would love to see this idea work and see free dialogue about literature take hold in lieu of #justinbieber on Twitter. But Jeff, I'm also afraid that independent and free thinking ideas may be drowned out by the louder voices on this internets. Sometimes groupthink takes hold when everyone agrees to something, and I've notices that it takes hold in a fierce way on Twitter. Most people--sorry to say it--are sheep. Their opinions won't shine and won't be heard, if they voice them at all.

Blech, I'm getting depressed just writing this.

Look, I hope it works and I'll support you either way. Thanks for being positive and brilliant. And hot.



I'm in.


OK, Jeff. In casting that great big net this and next month, I'll be throwing in David Weinberger's "Everything Is Miscellaneous'' and two novels from far afield, Ali Sethi's "The Wish Maker'' and the upcoming book from Gary "Absurdistan'' Shteyngart, "Super Sad True Love Story.'' Dave


Can't wait! Vanity Fair rocks. How about Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End or anything by Elizabeth Bowen?


Great idea, Jeff ~ but a bit grandiose. The idea definitely is not new. On a smaller scale check out the Univ. of Wisconsin's Go Big Read @ The first book read by students, alumni, staff, professors, Madison residents, etc. was Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food." It has been a great way for me to stay connected to my roots.

Brunilda Rivera

I am in... Any genre sounds good. I like a little of everything and I nothing else will gain from this experince and grow from it. Will work on suggestions to help kick start this in terms of titles or genres for same.

The comments to this entry are closed.