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.