Crowdsourcing activates the transformative power of today's technology, liberating the latent potential within us all. It's a perfect meritocracy, where age, gender, race, education, and job history no longer matter; the quality of work is all that counts; and every field is open to people of every imaginable background. If you can perform the service, design the product, or solve the problem, you've got the job.
©2008 Jeff Howe; (P)2008 Random House, Inc.
If you have read Groundswell, Wikinomics, and the Wisdom of Crowds, this book repeats some of the concepts that were well described in those books. Crowdsourcing is a good book and provides plenty of background and detailed explanations around some of the well known "crowdsourced" companies such as threadless.com, topcoder.com, istockphoto.com, and a few others.
The basic concepts are as follows:
- there are 1 billion internet users with anywhere between 2 to 6 hours to spend per day;
- there is a large portion of the population that is over-qualified for their day job and as such are looking for ways to use their skills;
- combine these facts with a drastic decrease of the cost of technology and increased power of technology and the possibilities are endless;
- most importantly 'amateurs' can now compete on the same ground as professionals in many fields;
- as an organization, you cannot control what the crowd will do - the crowd decides what it will work on. The community will work on project of their interest;
- you should start a crowdsourcing project with the intend to make money BUT you may end up making money as a consequence of collaborating with the crowd.
Overall, we are only seeing the beginning of crowsourcing.
The author is definitely someone who has drunk the Kool-Aid, down to the last drop. Nevertheless, this is a useful collection of examples of a growing trend, a social shift. I didn't find myself in complete agreement with the author on everything, nevertheless it is a viewpoint worth listening to.
If you don't know what crowd sourcing means, by all means pick up this book- it's a great introduction with some fantastic examples. That said, I can't stand this authors repeated marvel at the power of crowd sourcing. He all but says sourcing the masses will solve the world's problems, but fails to realize that a crowdsourcing model can only exist over the framework of gainful employment. All of the passionate members of the "crowd" couldn't set up their own home shops with the meager earnings the receive from participating in this type of work. Interesting listen at first but hard to make it all the way through.
This is a good book with a good narrator. While it's very introductory in the concept of Crowdsourcing, the fact is that most people still are not familiar with the term.
If you are reading this, you are participating in 'crowdsourcing' and after listening to this, I had to become a member of the audible crowd. Soo...There are lessons in here about how to harness the power of community via the internet. I would recommend to anyone working on sites or applications that included collaborative elements.
USMC journalist, turned Embassy FSO, now USAF Web Chief
Although the author doesn't specifically address the 40-hour work week, he does deal with a range of results from that fact. He talks about how people's hobbies are increasingly allowing them to contribute significantly en masse to major projects -- like Linux, a collectively developed free software or uploading thousands of bird sitings to help onithologists track bird migrations. The author talks about the incredible power of the masses in contributing to major developments and notes that the "over education of the middle class" and increasing levels of job dissatisfaction are the cause.
He definitely got some of these elements right, but I think sociologically speaking the meaning of job has changed. After the great depression, a great job was one that fed the family -- assembly line work at an auto manufacturing plant would be an ideal job under that description. However, more recently, employees want more personally engaging, intellectually stimulately jobs which provide creativity outlets for them. Thus, jobs at Google and similar companies that encourage and permit time for employee creativity are more valued. Moreover, companies are beginning to see that sometimes it pays to give employees more latitude.
However, not everyone can work at such places and those who don't have a naturally engaging job look for alternatives for "meaningful work" as the author calls the Pro-Am -- a new term, spelled out the professional amateur, which means amateurs who work at a professional level.
Karl Marx saw humans as naturally creative; I think that's true. And he saw the labor of the the 1800s as demeaning this naturally creative nature, which might also have been true. However, today, as Crowdsourcing illustrates, people have increasing levels of access to universities and institutions of higher learning, more time to devote to hobbies of higher interest and thanks to the Internet, a method by which to collectively collaborate on projects of common interest.
The end result is that this book, unlike many other "new media" books doesn't have a doomsday message. It gives more facts and illustrations and avoid the preachy pitfall some other new media authors have fallen in. It is both a great read -- or listen in my case -- and an excellent collection of facts and realities.
I'm particularly fond of the 5th chapter that traces dilettantism back to Charles Darwin and other great thinkers. It suggests that all of us can now participate in grand adventures like the Voyage of the Beagle, even if we never leave our keyboards and make our personal discoveries by reading the crowd-sourced Wikipedia for new imagination inciting facts. This book is awesome!
This is a great audiobook. It is well read and well produced. The ideas flowed smoothly into my mind without any verbal distractions. Perfect.
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