Crowdsourcing: A Model for Leveraging Online Communities
As our understanding of participatory cultures advances, there is a growing interestamong practitioners and scholars in how best to take charge of the creative, productivecapabilities of Internet users for specific purposes. A number of online businesses in the pastdecade have actively recruited individuals in online communities to design products and solveproblems for them, often motivating an online community’s creative output or harnessing theircreative input through the format of an open challenge with various rewards. Organizations thatissue specific tasks to online communities in an open call format engage in the practice of “crowdsourcing.” Crowdsourcing is a model for problem solving, not merely a model for doingbusiness (Brabham, 2008a; Brito, 2008; Fritz et al., 2009; Haklay and Weber, 2008). Thecrowdsourcing model is also well suited to organizations’ marketing and public relations goals,as the process of managing an online community allows organizations to forge closerelationships with publics and allows consumers to participate in the making of brands (Phillipsand Brabham, 2011). Thus, it is important to understand how crowdsourcing works so that thecollective intelligence of online communities can be leveraged in future participatory mediaapplications for the public good. In this chapter, I further define the crowdsourcing model byputting forth a typology of crowdsourcing. Ultimately, these types may inform the design of future participatory media applications for governments, non-profits, and activists hoping tosolve pressing political, social, and environmental problems.
The Basics of Crowdsourcing
Jeff Howe, a contributing editor for
magazine, coined the term “crowdsourcing” ina June 2006 article (Howe, 2006c). In a companion blog, Howe (2006a) offered the followingdefinition of crowdsourcing: