Crowdsourcing, One Billion People & Counting

In Jeff Howe’s book Crowdsourcing he looks at the organizational structure of the traditional company and asks “what constitutes an ‘employee’ or a ‘manager’ or ‘president’ in a crowdsourcing environment,” (p 98). He makes some very interesting remarks about the tendency for humans to form groups and communities in order to survive. But technology, created by the foundations of group collaboration, has now made it possible for individuals to move away from the security of the structured and formal group.

We no longer rely on the recommendations of people who are paid to make us believe in a product. For example, I don’t really believe that Catherine Zeta-Jones wants me to have a mobile makeover using T-Mobile. Although she is a very talented actress with an Oscar under her fashionable belt, as a consumer it’s just an advertisement to me. I would be more inclined (as a T-Mobile customer already) to pursue this route if I hear something positive about it on Twitter or from another community not getting paid to endorse the service.

Crowdsourcing “is, in almost every instance, made possible by the Internet…one billion people with the potential to contribute in some way to any given crowdsourcing project,” (p 99). What corporations had before were elaborate campaigns, now these campaigns can be accomplished by someone soliciting information on a blog, twitter or social networking site. People want to hear what other people like them think; it helps people be a part of the story and drive change.

Skinni Popcorn is a crowdsourcing tool that “features Twitter feeds of users’ real time comments about newly released films and the current US box office top ten, as well as the top ten most talked about movies at present.” Real viewer’s opinions and thoughts make the ‘140 character or less’ reviews worth believing. Often when pulling up Fandango on Friday night, we don’t need all the glitz and glamour of the trailers and popup ads to tell us what we’ll enjoy. We want a quick “this movie sucks” or “best movie ever!” Even long winded reviews have their artistic bias and make you dig through the article to find the star rating. Tools like this deemphasize the weight of specialty professions like journalism, and change employment structures, like Howe mentions. Skinni Popcorn even offers a link to people’s twitter feeds to validate their posting:

What people are saying (from Skinni Popcorn):

Had the chance to watched G.I Joe the Rise of Cobra last Saturday evening, and finds it as a very fast phase action packed movie. –nyctowivern

Watched G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Summary: ignore all rules of physics & enjoy! I like movies with my childhood toys on a big screen! –RyInSpace

just seen G.I. Joe The Rise of Cobra…freaking awesome movie!!!!!!! –MalGACFan

Howe talks about newspapers a lot in chapter 4, but what he writes can be true of many other things: “Crowdsourcing actually enables the papers to expand: more webpages, more niche publications,” (p 107). The downside of this expansion is the traditional corporate structure changes. “The advent of the Internet has changed the way business is conducted,…the largest private employer in the United States today ‘is not General Motors or IBM or even Wal-Mart’…it’s the temp agency Manpower Incorporated, which as of 2008 employed 4.4 million people,” (p 111). It is now becoming second nature to contract out for the talent, not kept it in house eating up budget between projects.


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