I recently picked up a copy of Crowdsourcing , the new book by Jeff Howe, and read it on my flight home from Chicago O’Hare.
According to Wikipedia , “Crowdsourcing is a neologism for the act of taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people, in the form of an open call.” This is a pretty good definition.
The book focuses on some of my favorite sites like Threadless and InnoCentive . The latter was used in a discussion of how to use crowdsourcing to address social and environmental issues. InnoCentive has partnered with foundations to create cash prizes for the crowd in order to find solutions to diseases and other huge social and health challenges.
This is very cool, but it raises two questions:
- Do you need economic incentives to have people seek solutions to collective societal issues?
- How do we use this model to address smaller but critical issues facing nonprofits in various issue areas?