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Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 176
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Ever since the term "crowdsourcing" was coined in 2006 byWiredwriter Jeff Howe, group activities ranging from the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary to the choosing of new colors for M&Ms have been labeled with this most buzz-generating of media buzzwords. In this accessible but authoritative account, grounded in the empirical literature, Daren Brabham explains what crowdsourcing is, what it is not, and how it works. Crowdsourcing, Brabham tells us, is an online, distributed problem solving and production model that leverages the collective intelligence of online communities for specific purposes set forth by a crowdsourcing organization -- corporate, government, or volunteer. Uniquely, it combines a bottom-up, open, creative process with top-down organizational goals. Crowdsourcing is not open source production, which lacks the top-down component; it is not a market research survey that offers participants a short list of choices; and it is qualitatively different from predigital open innovation and collaborative production processes, which lacked the speed, reach, rich capability, and lowered barriers to entry enabled by the Internet. Brabham describes the intellectual roots of the idea of crowdsourcing in such concepts as collective intelligence, the wisdom of crowds, and distributed computing. He surveys the major issues in crowdsourcing, including crowd motivation, the misconception of the amateur participant, crowdfunding, and the danger of "crowdsploitation" of volunteer labor, citing real-world examples from Threadless, InnoCentive, and other organizations. And he considers the future of crowdsourcing in both theory and practice, describing its possible roles in journalism, governance, national security, and science and health.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-31424-4
    Subjects: Technology, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Bruce Tidor

    The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series offers accessible, concise, beautifully produced pocket-size books on topics of current interest. Written by leading thinkers, the books in this series deliver expert overviews of subjects that range from the cultural and the historical to the scientific and the technical.

    In today’s era of instant information gratification, we have ready access to opinions, rationalizations, and superficial descriptions. Much harder to come by is the foundational knowledge that informs a principled understanding of the world. Essential Knowledge books fill that need. Synthesizing specialized subject matter for nonspecialists and engaging critical topics through fundamentals, each of...

    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xxiv)

    One of the most remarkable things to have come out of the so-called Web 2.0 era is not the tools themselves but the ways that new media technologies have redesigned the relationships we have with one another and with organizations. The Internet has long been a place for participatory culture to flourish, but in the early 2000s, we saw for the first time a surge of interest on the part of organizations to leverage the collective intelligence of online communities to serve business goals, improve public participation in governance, design products, and solve problems. Businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies...

    (pp. 1-40)

    Crowdsourcing is a story of cooperation, aggregation, teamwork, consensus, and creativity. It is a new arrangement for doing work, but it also is a phenomenon where, when the conditions are right, groups of people can out-perform individual experts, outsiders can bring fresh insights to internal problems, and geographically dispersed people can work together to produce policies and designs that are agreeable to most. In this chapter, I explore how and why crowdsourcing works, what some of the most notable cases of crowdsourcing are, and how the curious phenomenon of crowdfunding fits into this landscape.

    By 2008, the first scholarly attempts...

    (pp. 41-60)

    Crowdsourcing cases can be organized in a four-type typology according to the kinds of problems being addressed. Several academics have offered other typologies for examining crowdsourcing, but here I make a case for why my four-type typology is a more useful lens for viewing crowdsourcing than other typologies. A brief look at the disciplinary interpretations of crowdsourcing research follows, and a concluding policy-advisory framework addresses the management of crowdsourcing applications and organizational commitment to crowdsourcing outcomes.

    Many scholars and journalists have categorized aspects of crowdsourcing, including types of crowds, crowdsourcing work, industries served, and functional features. For example, Nicholas Carr...

    (pp. 61-98)

    Scholars have examined many facets of the crowdsourcing process, from how and why crowds participate in crowdsourcing applications to what ethical questions arise from crowdsourced labor and exploitation. Some of the most frequently mentioned scholarly issues and controversies surrounding crowdsourcing are addressed below.

    All individuals engaged in crowdsourcing are in some way motivated to participate, and understanding how and why crowds participate is necessary for designing effective crowdsourcing applications. The motivation to participate in crowdsourcing is not very different from the motivation to participate in blogging, creating open-source software, posting videos to YouTube, contributing toWikipedia, or tagging content at...

    (pp. 99-116)

    Crowdsourcing has steadily proliferated across many disciplines and into new contexts as new industries embrace the model to rejigger old and inefficient operations and to invent entirely new uses. Where crowdsourcing goes, researchers follow. In this chapter, I outline future growth areas for crowdsourcing, both in new applications and new research directions across disciplines.

    As ubiquitous computing becomes the norm in our lives, flexible crowdsourcing platforms will become easy for everyday people to use and will be seamlessly integrated into our normal life processes. The success of platforms like InnoCentive and Mechanical Turk demonstrates the usefulness of easy-to-use platforms that...

    (pp. 117-118)
    (pp. 119-124)
    (pp. 125-130)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 131-138)