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Jeff Howe writes a very interesting article about the rise of crowdsourcing with the advent of the internet. From the very beginning, Howe contrasts crowdsourcing with outsourcing, to remove any confusion regarding the two terms. Although both terms refer to employment of an alternate source of people at reduced cost, crowdsourcing is the evolved form of outsourcing. Advances in transportation allowed for access to resources across the nations. Jobs that were once performed in America could be performed by workers in India or China, where wages are lesser and restriction to businesses fewer. Businesses flourished as profit margins increased as a result of outsourcing.
Crowdsourcing is the modern day evolution of outsourcing. Howe defines the term as the employment of a crowd to perform work that could instead be performed by employees. Moreover, businesses need not actively shift work designated for employees to the crowd. They can assign tasks directly to the crowd at lower costs, while presenting alternative forms of work for current employees, such as data management. Labor for the crowd may be performed collectively or individually. The crucial requirement for crowdsourcing is that businesses must delegate tasks via an open call format, such that a large network of laborers may perform tasks for companies in exchange for monetary compensation. Such a method of work performance is extremely effective and indicates that hobbyists may be as capable as traditional employees. In fact, Howe presents various examples of tasks completed by the crowd, which company employees could not achieve.
This notion of crowdsourcing has only come to existence as a result of the internet. The author notes that the internet has made it possible for businesses to hire laborers regardless of location, as long as they have access to the web. For years, companies sought cheap labor overseas. With advances in technology, laborers may be hired for work practically anywhere because jobs are increasingly reliant on the internet (i.e. software development, drug formulas, etc.). For example, research and development sectors of corporations (R &D) are increasingly relying on the external intelligence of the crowd to solve problems that have stumped corporate employees. InnoCentive is a pharmaceutical company that pays solvers $10,000 to $100,000 to find new solutions for drug development.
iStockphoto is another specialized company that relies on crowdsourcing to offer affordable images to the public. These photos are often taken by amateur hobbyists who demand far lower prices for their products than professional photographers. Other companies offer crowdsourcing for the masses. Amazon’s Mechanical Turk helps companies to search for individuals who can perform tasks computers are less effective at. These human intelligence tasks (HITs) offer small compensation for tasks requiring little time, such as transcribing podcasts or writing product descriptions.
The blogosphere represents an effective element of crowdsourcing. Bloggers are essentially the “crowd” companies often seek to complete tasks. For instance, a journalism company may be seeking writers for an editorial piece on a specific topic. After consulting a writer’s blog, the company might decide to hire the individual based on his/ her work on the blog. Thus, blogs often supplement a candidate’s resume, especially when that individual is considered for employment. In short, the rise of crowdsourcing is evident in today’s society, and bloggers stand at the forefront of this movement.