So what’s all this talk of crowdsourcing anyway?
First, let’s ground ourselves on what we’re talking about when we refer to the term crowdsourcing. In general, we are talking about outsourcing a job or task to an undefined, generally large group or community. Naturally and fortunately, the Internet, by its very nature, makes this easier and highly scalable.
Various models are still evolving, but good examples include intellectually challenging projects like those found on InnoCentive to the more rote style work that can be found at Amazon’s Mechanical Turk site. At its most rudimentary form, one could even argue that online auctions, which have been around for a while, are a form of crowdsourcing.
From a design standpoint, arguments have been made on both sides as whether crowdsourcing an online logo or web design cheapens the work of a designer. I, for one don’t believe so. In fact, in a sense, it serves as a catalyst for competition, which is ultimately good for the industry, good for customers, good for everyone. I see it as a 1+1=3 equation. In the models where there is only one deemed “winner,” as long as they are able to be contacted by the buyer, a single crowdsourcing project can easily benefit multiple designers. Winning a design or even simply interacting with the project leader/customer can also be the fast track to a new, ongoing relationship (i.e., new client) as well.
Because the crowdsourcing concept is still relatively new—well, in Internet time at least, I am anxiously watching to see how it will evolve and in particular, the clever ways in which it can be monetized.
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