So what does the history of crowdsourcing look like?

I mean everything has to start somewhere and in business the longer it’s been around the better — right? Now while Jeff Howe coined the phrase “crowdsourcing” — crowdsourcing has been around since at least 1714.

The crowdsourcing timeline is peppered with various milestones:

  1. King Louis XVI of France offers a prize for producing alkali from sea salt — 1783
  2. Planters Peanuts holds contest to develop its logo — 1916
  3. Wikipedia launches — 2001
  4. Iceland government crowdsources the process for its new constitution — 2011

I believe that one of the reasons you are cautious about crowdsourcing — is that you think it’s a trend that piggy-backed off the popularity of social media.

Crowdsourcing, is one of the oldest work processes in human history and has had steady grown in acceptance over the past 300 (actually 298) years. The facts remains that its popularity, in large part, is due to the Internet. It’s the information super highway that has allowed crowdsourcing to flourish. By giving birth to a myriad products and services that solve many issues by tapping into a massive collaboration tool.

Case in point, this year we say goodbye to the print edition of the Britannica Encyclopedia. The reference book company has beenin business for 244 years. Now there are a handful of reasons why Jorge Cauz, President of Britannica, made this decision. But one of the undeniable facts is the competition that Wikipedia presents – a crowd-powered reference site.

When making the case for crowdsourcing, understanding its history is as important as its present and future. And this timeline provides a nice representation of what crowdsourcing has been able to accomplish in a very (historically) short period of time.

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