I was in the midst of a discussion with a tech friend of mine the other day, when I nonchalantly mentioned the term ‘crowdsourcing’. I just assumed that he knew what it meant, but he had no idea. Upon further inspection, the term is more recent than I realized. Many may already know what it means, but here is a short lesson for the rest of you.
Everyone’s favourite online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, defines crowdsourcing as “a business model akin to outsourcing, but relying upon unpaid or low-paid amateurs who use their spare time to create content, solve problems, or even do corporate R&D”. The term was coined in June 2006 by Wired magazine writer Jeff Howe and editor Mark Robinson.
Examples of this phenomenon include Linux, Wikipedia, and Firefox. All three products were created by unpaid (in most cases) individuals who volunteered their time and services. As you may very well notice, open source in general is a form of crowdsourcing that has existed for the years. The actual notion and term have only become more mainstream in recent times.
Cambrian House is a recent start-up out of Calgary, Alberta that has gained much press attention as its entire business model is based off of the idea of crowdsourcing. They combine crowdsourcing with Internet marketing to provide instantaneous access to consumer demand. And because of their unique business model, they pledge to be the first billion person company. Ambitious to say the least, but inspiring. Good luck kids.
Wow, this crowdsourcing stuff is cool. Sounds almost as fun as crowd-surfing.