A bunch of folks have sent in this silly opinion piece at Forbes, claiming that crowdsourcing is a myth. The reasoning? Because there are individuals in the crowd. Except… um… did anyone say anything different? Of course there are individuals, and the point of crowdsourcing isn’t that everyone in the crowd is equal, but that they each get to contribute their own special talents, and something better comes out of it.
Apparently some people debate between which is the right theory to explain online behavior: Crowdsourcing vs. Influentials.
Isn’t this just two views of the same thing just from different view points? To Netflix and Wikipedia, it’s “the crowd” that they benefit from, if you’re in “the crowd” your an individual and usually influential in your space.
Amybeth Hale, who is queen (or should I say goddess) of leaving longer comments than my original posts, made this apt statement (which has been edited for length):
I think you could apply Pareto’s principle of 80/20 here. Sure, not everyone is going to participate in crowd sourcing, and I think it’s a good assumption that 80% of the contribution will come from 20% of the participants. But that’s still darned good, statistically speaking.
I love crowdsourcing. I don’t get tons of participation every time, but what I do always get are unique perspectives, which is what I was after in the first place I don’t think it’s a myth at all, and I certainly don’t think it kills incentive of the inventor, because it allows them to take pieces of feedback from many places to craft and perfect ideas. And the pursuit of excellence is what all good thought leaders are after to begin with, whether the ideas from from within or from outside input.
I think people misinterpret the “crowd” in crowdsourcing. It may just be two or three people. I think where the original Forbes article (that sparked the TechDirt post which sparked my quick Posterous post, which sparked Amybeth’s comment which sparked this “crowdsourced” post) went wrong is seperating crowds from individuals.
Which as my colleague Jeremy Meyers points out is the wrong argument. It’s an Us vs. Them argument. There is no “Them” there is only Us. It doesn’t matter if we’re trying to find crowds or influentials or individuals to assist our efforts, what we’re really trying to do is find people “like us” to share experiences with and work towards common goals.
And yes, I’m still talking about businesses.
What we’re really doing here is just arguing over the vocabulary our growing crowd will use.
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