Why Crowdsource?

Written by Claudia Pelzer

Jan 24, 2013

In 2006, Jeff Howe coined the term crowdsourcing and he defined it via his Wired Magazine as 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.”

Explained in other words, crowdsourcing means integrating a crowd of people outside a company and organization or yourself to create something. This process is supported by the current social technologies, such as social networks and special crowdsourcing platforms that are launched everyday now. These platforms and networks make it easier than ever to connect people and organize them, both as individuals and as a group.

Crowdsourcing is a neologism, composed of “crowd” and “outsourcing.” The process has its origins in the field of open innovation and describes the outsourcing of work and creative processes to the masses of Internet users. Crowdsourcing has several subcategories including crowdfunding (the community jointly funding a project), co-creation (the community together creates a creative work) or microtasking (the community performs small tasks such as word recognition, which are part of a larger project).
With the advent of new communication technologies and networks on the Web 2.0, traditional work processes seem to be becoming increasingly obsolete. Crowdsourcing is one of the hottest trends in the actual business world and represents the new way of working: The working models of the future are no longer devised in the upper echelons of big business. They often occur among the very young in non-traditional settings. And sometimes putting this bit of “here” and “there” together leads to the same ideas.

There are some theoretical foundations for the work of the future. In this context, I can think of the theories of American social philosopher Frithjof Bergmann. Based on his study on the concept of freedom and the projected end of the traditional job-system, he developed the concept of “New Work“. His view of work is based on self-determination, freedom and a sense of community. The basic idea is that there is endless work that goes far beyond what the system offers in terms of paid employment. He advocates that each person can find work that is adequate for his or her talents and preferences – these can be used somewhere.

Even though I personally cannot imagine what Bergmann describes – the self-production of goods due to the re-education of people away from the consumer society onto a reduced product range in the near future based on necessity- the approach sounds vaguely familiar. Observe, for example, the current generation of creative professionals. To keep the old value system consisting of working up to security and continuity, 20 years or more in the same company seems increasingly outdated. In its place, enter values such as self-actualization, flexibility … and yes, I hardly dare to write: happiness at work.

Why only now? The answer is simple: The right technology has until now been lacking. This new flexibility is made possible only through the mechanics of  2.0, and today can be done with a mobility previously never seen. The crowdsourcing platform is a virtual marketplace for freelancers and companies – this is where all projects are implemented online. Here the power lies in numbers. It’s all about people coming together to work to achieve goals and solve problems. And to a large extent they are driven by their own motivation – not because a company has committed them to it. Most often there are incentives and benefits to attract workers to crowdsourcing platforms as well as co-working spaces. But it remains a fact that their services are not just needed, but also wanted.

Crowdsourcing is based on the fact that people who work in virtual and physical networks can in this way create a higher value collectively than if they acted independently. This is also true for problem-solving, innovation and creative output.

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About Author

About Author

Claudia Pelzer

Claudia has an international MBA, lives and works in Cologne as a media consultant, author and blogger. She is the Founder of CrowdsourcingBlog.de, an information hub that deals with the various facets, currents and outward signs of crowdsourcing.

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