Crowdsourcing and you
An independent project raises 5,549% of it’s goal, $1000 dollar stock photos are now going for $1, businesses are spending $25,000 for R&D instead of “several times that amount”, and most articles on businesses in Wikipedia have some inaccuracy in them. These are just some examples of how crowdsourcing is changing the face of our economic and literate society.
Aug 2 2014, was the final day in the fundraising for an independent project which received 5,549% of it’s goal. An amazing gathering of funding for any business. What was it? Potato salad. Yup. Potato salad. This project became viral and got 6,911 backers to raise a total of $55,492 which was $55,482 more than the $10 he asked for. Not only did he take that amount and fund a community event “Potatostock 2014”. He also ended up donating a good portion of the proceeds to charity. “This will create a permanent fund to help Central Ohio’s non-profits end hunger and homelessness.”
In June 2006, wired reported that Mark Harmel, a photographer had gone from an average return of $690 per stock photograph in 2000 to just $59 in 2006. Thus encouraging Mr. Hamel to get out of the stock business. What was the cause of his business transition? Super cheap stock photos from non-professionals marketed through sites like istockphoto. This de-professionalization is changing the focus of some professional photographers.
Other areas are becoming de-professionalized in other senses as well. Take for example television which is utilizing more and more user created content to reduce overhead or professional tasks that traditionally cost $2000 paying $5 from “qualified” persons via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. And of course businesses opening up difficult problems for others to solve on solution based pay through InnoCentive an online platform for outsourcing your R&D. Thus costing the businesses $25,000 instead of significantly more. While solution based pay may be fair to the creators of the winning solution, those who don’t win, don’t get paid. Thus enabling businesses to harness the brain power of hundreds of people for substantially less than they would pay a single employee. In design we call this “comping,” and there are generally professional standards against and legal reasons for not doing it. And in some ways it seems like union busting or strike breaking. And definitely seems like a corporation taking advantage of labor. Which possibly will injure corporation’s talent pool in the long run.
All of these examples mentioned are considered crowdsourcing, and all vary in their focus. Some are just for laughs (potato salad, I’m looking at you) and some may have serious consequences (I’m looking at you InnoCentive).
Some other examples of crowdsourcing is IBM’s Jams, which seek to solve a variety of problems that the business faces or wants to explore. With it’s finite timeline of 72 hours and it’s summary report afterwards, this version of crowdsourcing seems akin to an extended survey/interview. Whereas Wikipedia’s crowdsourcing can lead to inaccurate and biased information about a company. Especially since those who know one aspect of the company best (PR people) are not permitted to utilize easy and timely methods of editing.
So there seem to be boons and banes for crowdsourcing. And crowdsourcing as a method seems still a nascent process.
What do you think? Does crowdsourcing solutions provide a net benefit or injury to laborers, businesses and the society? Is crowdsourcing a sustainable economy?
How do professionals distinguish their value from non-professionals to compete in a crowdsourced economy?