I would like to continue writing this blog, but I have so much on my mind lately. I just have an over abundance of money and knowledge that I want to share. Oh what I would do to throw money at a cooler that can play music, blend my drinks, hold my luggage, charge my phone, and take care of my first born. If only I could share my knowledge about the 1947 Roswell UFO Sighting and how the alien autopsy was a hoax. Look at my money withering away to ashes when it could be used to help children grasp reading using one of my childhood TV shows as basis. What really bugs me is that I can’t put my Seinfield-style fan fiction script about Sherlock Holmes and Amy Poehler living across the hallway from Vladimir Putin on a website that actors, producers, writers, artists, and so on can use to further their own art. I guess you can’t win them all…
Wait…these are possible???? (Minus the “first born” thing…I think…)
Mmhmm and all because of crowdsourcing!
Crowdsourcing has become an important asset in today’s modern age. It is basically calling on the masses to contribute to something that generally a single employee or agency would do. One such tool that we all know and love (or hate if you are my Senior English teacher) is Wikipedia. Anybody can go to the website, find an article, and add information to it albeit right information since most of it is monitored now. However, crowdsourcing is not necessarily a single entity. One such subcategory (and probably the most popular) is crowdfunding. We all have heard of it, especially with the company Kickstarter. Basically, when a company is in need of monetary support, they show the product and ask for “backers”. Just like that cool cooler (Ha!) that I mentioned, people show interest and fund it! Simple yet effective. Crowdsourcing is vast and includes many ways that allow the public to involve their ideas and it works.
However, back to the question; is it a good thing?
I would like to say an astounding yes, but there are certainly issues.
Lets first take a deeper look at the process of crowdfunding. Obviously, the system works, but why? Because people get to be involved in the creation of something they want to purchase or support. Involving the consumer confirms that what a company is creating is a good product. Obviously, if the company doesn’t make their goal, then they don’t have the interest that is needed. The idea then will be pitched and a new one could be produced. This allows for the quick advancement of products that consumers “literally” want, not what is “believed” they want. It also gives small companies a chance to fight for the spotlight. Here is a cool infographic that shows that. For example, the Pebble Watch was a very successful project on Kickstarter. This is considered the first of modern smartwatches. The success of the backing of the product led to the success of the company as whole. When other companies saw this, including Samsung, Motorola, and Apple for instance, they started to create their own watch. What followed is now a working yet successful market. Not only has a small company rose from the roots, it also caused a huge ripple in the market of technology.
If only someone will make a Kickstarter for a back massaging robot *cough* please *cough* my back hurts *cough*.
Now let’s not just drool over crowdfunding, let’s also look at the other majestics of crowdsouring in the world of information. As mentioned in the second paragraph, Wikipedia is a great example of how information is provided by the crowd. This information can be considered educational based. A lot of crowdsourcing websites consider the information they gain as so. One example is Zooniverse. Zooniverse is a website that crowdsources scientific research. One of the studies a person can do is classifying universes when they discover one. This provides a huge workforce that could possibly map the stars much more quickly then anyone else can on their own! Also, it could be backwards. Education can be provided for information. The best example is Duolingo. As described by the creator in his TED talk, Luis Von Ahn explained that the information from you learning a new language allows for better online translations! That’s freaking awesome since Google translate can’t even keep “Let It Go” straight.
How bout the issues? It looks good so far!
Well it is, but there will be problems with some people. Crowdsourcing is practically outsourcing. I know, I know, outsourcing is a no-no word in the world of industry, but crowdsourcing takes that to a different level. What happens is that the crowd kind of takes people’s jobs. Based off the key concept off the book “Cult of the Ameteur” by Andrew Keen explains that this is taking jobs away from artists and experts. He’s right in some ways (but the author is quite the butt, just watch this interview). Art is no longer a very successful business to be in since you can find a nice copy of it on Etsy for $25. Also, some encyclopedia and newspaper companies are going down too because of the collaboration of users. However, crowdsourcing allows for people to learn. In an interview by USA Today with Chris Linott, the founder of Zooniverse, he explains how “We need to break the myth that science is only made by men in white coats…” Not everyone is going to be good enough to know what a comet is, he continued to explains, but it involves them to learn. So, people didn’t necessarily take the jobs, they are just learning! But crowdsourcing also takes people’s ideas and doesn’t pay them for it, right? Well, not if you work with Lego. Lego allows you to submit ideas and if people and the company like it, they will produce it and give you royalties when sold! This might take some master builder jobs away, but it also gives the opportunity of, like I said before, involving the consumer.
In conclusion, I think that the world of crowdsourcing is amazing. It has helped further our generation faster than ever before and gives consumers the advantage of picking the products they desire.
Oh P.S. there is a super relevant South Park episode that you should watch. Warning, it is quite offensive…like literally NSFW.