Friday, April 30, 2010

Crowdsourcing: Why The Power Of The Crowd Is Driving The Future Of Business / by Jeff Howe

The information technology boom along with the "flattening" of the world in the modern era has made it possible for amateurs to work with the same precision and accuracy as professionals. This situation has created for a far more inverted structure to the basic synergy involved in economic production and division of labor, or so Jeff Howe, a computer engineer and contributing columnist for WIRED magazine, surmises in his book covering a phenomenon he's coined as "crowdsourcing". Crowdsourcing theorizes that the digital age has enabled a far greater mass of people with the ability to accomplish feats which were once relegated to the specialized skills and talents of smaller, more exclusive groups of individuals. The increasing abundance of social networking technology and interactive web resources in which the user participates not only as a receptor but, in fact, as a contributor to the original content, fermenting the product so to speak--think Wikipedia--has introduced a thoroughly new mode of organizational structure within the labor force.
The collaborative creativity made possible with technology has and will continue to infiltrate every conceivable aspect of our society. With crowdsourcing, work patterns are structured differently, research is more stratified, management is constantly redelegated and marketing tactics are continuously rediversified. Crowdsourcing also allows for a more "coagulated meritocracy" where the quality of the work is all that matters, eliminating biases of sex, ethnicity, creed and even educational qualifications from worker profiles. This, of course, disrupts the theory and practice of equal division of labor, making employment in certain sectors as unpredictable as ever. But Howe observes--and others agree with him--that this trend is unlikely to change anytime soon; thus managerial economies worldwide must adapt. Howe's book captures an intriguing and vitally important function of our society, one which will invariably impact every facet of the world's economy, culture and behavior for years to come.

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