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Crowdsourcing – What It Is, And How You Can Use It

Crowdsourcing – What It Is, And How You Can Use It

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Published by: Crowdsourcing.org on Nov 04, 2011
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Posted on Friday, Nov 04, 2011 in"Public News"by Art 
It was a shocking article that appeared a few months ago, asking if the concept of regular employment itself was outdated. The issue raised from it was that, asopposed to steady jobs, our economy was moving more towards a dynamicallyshifting pool of  freelancers,moving quickly from one employer to the next. What perhaps was most shocking about it was that, with so many people actually taking
 part in this new type of work, it didn’t actually shock many people.
This is the business revolution represented by the term “crowdsourcing.”
Theword was introduced in a2006 article in Wired magazine.The concept has taken
off like a rocket since and hasn’t stopped for breath.
If you aren’t familiar with it,
here’s a summary to catch you up to speed.
If you are familiar with it and want touse it, here are some tips from the pros.
A new name for an old concept
 The first instance of effective crowdsourcing is older than all of us. One of theearliest editions of the Oxford English Dictionary was created by the collaborativework of about 800 volunteers. OK, this is about as relevant to moderncrowdsourcing as the first 17
century steam automobile is to a Ferrari. Still, thedictionary is still with us, and now again, so is the concept.What crowdsourcing doe
s is to tap into “collective intelligence”, that is, the ideas
that are generated by approaching problems as a large group rather than anindividual or small set of them. It generally works like this:A company or other organization posts a service that they need to appeal to anopen pool of applicants to find an answer to. Examples of common crowdsourcingrequests are the generation of company logos, solutions to governmental publicpolicy problems, software testing, programming, and writing of all kinds. In
reality, though, it can be just about anything that you might want to “poll theaudience” for.
The crowd finds a needle in the interstellar haystack
 An example from just a few days ago underscores the potential power of crowdsourcing. Rainer Kracht, a retired school teacher in Elmshorn, Germany,reviewed images sent to the crowd from the Teide Observatory Tenerife AsteroidSurvey (TOTAS). This observatory was sponsored by the Space SituationalAwareness program, a European Space Agency project. What he saw in one of the
images was eventually named “2011 SF108”, an asteroid set to approach to within19 million miles of earth (that’s not as far as it sounds).
The image was confirmedby other volunteers in the crowd before receiving its official designation.The vastness of space makes it impossible to rely completely on even the bestcomputers to scan through all of the data for anomalies. Here, then, is an exampleof how instead of using even more powerful processors, you can instead go to thecollective observation of several thousand sets of eyes.
Where is the crowd now?
 There are too many crowdsourcing projects in existence now to even begin tosummarize all of them. Here are just a few of the more notable examples:
Named after The Turk, a chess-playingmachine hoax from the 19
century, it provides a place for humans toperform tasks that their silicon-based cousins are still not so hot at.
This Carnegie Mellon University project uses the crowd tohelp digitize paper works such as the entire New York Times archive, 20years of which have now been uploaded.
CloudCrowd works by breaking large jobs down into moremanageable tasks that require human judgment, and farms those smaller jobsout to the crowd.
This site describes itself as the largest outsourcing site inthe world with a pool of more than 1.5 million users.
Yes, far be it from us not to squeeze Facecrack somewhere intoan article. Since 2008 the social networking czar has been usingcrowdsourcing to help produce better foreign language page translations.
Crowdsourcing website to get your logo design, websitedesign and other graphic design done with in few weeks.
Even if you have no interest in implementing crowdsourcing yourself, it’s worth a
peek at some of the ways its used just to re-establish your faith in what the internetis capable of. Finding relatives lost in the Katrina disaster, the recording of taxonomic dinosaur data, and archival of artifacts related to the first World War are
 just some of the amazing uses for this new approach to “employment”.
It’s a
heartening sight.
Great, I want in! How do I do this?
 Setting up is the easy part. Use any one of the popular crowdsourcing destinations;specifically, find one suited to the kind of work you want to split up. Mostcommon ideas have entire sites devoted just to that. For the uncommon work,there are plenty of catch-all locations that are ready for your jobs. Naturally, goover the terms of service. If your work is for pay, many of these sites will take acut.A little more important is how to do it right. As always, there are lots of tips sitesout there that go into great detail about how to use this dynamic effectively. Hereis a condensed version of the most common pieces of advice:

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