Crowdsourcing is a new source of cheap labor: everyday people using spare time to create visual or written content and contribute to collective and/or open source programs. Crowdsourcing is also increasingly being used by for-profit companies seeking to involve users/audience directly in the creative process. Others see this as exploitation of cheap or free labor. The "rise" of crowdsourcing, according to blogger/writer Jeff Howe is due in part to the reduction of "cost barriers that once separated amateurs from professionals."
Crowdsourcing can be broken into three categories which help define what crowdsourcing does and is actually capabable of.
Creation is based around community structures which work together to create media in which everyone can participate in. A good example would be Wikipedia. Thousands of people come together to bind an online encyclopedia. They are able to help manage it over time and learn from articles they are unfamiliar with. Prediction almost complements creation when as instead of creating actual media, users put their minds together in order to predict future outcomes of events, theories of the future, etc. Crowdsourcing also allows users to organize vast amounts of information. Instead of one secretary filing papers until the end of their shift, thousands of people can come together spontaneously to sort out, tag, and organize vast amounts of information from different sources.
- "Crowdsouricng" items from the Whats New Media blog
- Jeff Howe's blog Crowdsourcing
- The Rise of Crowdsourcing from WIRED
- Q&A in Second Life: Crowdsourcing and Virtual Worlds from WIRED's Game|Life Blog
- Holotof - Crowdsourcing Creativity from the Read/Write Web
- Crowdsourcing: A Million Heads is Better than One from the Read/Write Web (3.22.07)