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Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business

Overview

Why does Procter & Gamble repeatedly call on enthusiastic amateurs to solve scientific and technical challenges? How can companies as diverse as iStockphoto and Threadless employ just a handful of people, yet generate millions of dollars in revenue every year?

"Crowdsourcing" is how the power of the many can be leveraged to accomplish feats that were once the responsibility of a specialized few. Jeff Howe reveals that the crowd is more than wise–it’s talented, creative, and stunningly productive. It’s also a ...

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Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business

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Overview

Why does Procter & Gamble repeatedly call on enthusiastic amateurs to solve scientific and technical challenges? How can companies as diverse as iStockphoto and Threadless employ just a handful of people, yet generate millions of dollars in revenue every year?

"Crowdsourcing" is how the power of the many can be leveraged to accomplish feats that were once the responsibility of a specialized few. Jeff Howe reveals that the crowd is more than wise–it’s talented, creative, and stunningly productive. It’s also a perfect meritocracy, where age, gender, race, education, and job history no longer matter; the quality of the work is all that counts. If you can perform the service, design the product, or solve the problem, you’ve got the job.

But crowdsourcing has also triggered a dramatic shift in the way work is organized, talent is employed, research is conducted, and products are made and marketed. As the crowd comes to supplant traditional forms of labor, pain and disruption are inevitable, and Howe delves into both the positive and negative consequences of this intriguing phenomenon. Through extensive reporting from the front lines of this workplace revolution, he employs a brilliant array of stories to look at the economic, cultural, business, and political implications of crowdsourcing.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An informed and enthusiastic guide to the new collaborative creativity."
Times (London)

"A welcome and well-written corporate playbook for confusing times."
BusinessWeek

"An engaging mix of business, sociology, organizational theory, and technology writing and fits the mold of Malcolm Gladwell’s perennial bestseller, The Tipping Point."
Newsweek

“While small groups have often been the foundation of great performance—think SWAT teams and Skunk Works—Jeff Howe has made the compelling case for the power of far larger communities of interest. He shows in Crowdsourcing—with rich illustrations from Google and InnoCentive to Threadless and Wikipedia—that the right community with the right incentives can often invent, write, and run research and business initiatives more effectively and less expensively than traditional enterprise.”
—Michael Useem, professor of management and director of the Leadership Center at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and author of The Go Point: When It’s Time to Decide and The Leadership Moment

“Beyond the wisdom of crowds is the work of crowds, a powerful and transformative source of creativity and an economic engine that defies traditional rules. Jeff Howe’s guide to crowdsourcing—to use his perfect coinage—is insightful, fun, and indispensable to those who want to understand, or participate in, this amazing phenomenon.”
—Steven Levy, author of Hackers and The Perfect Thing

“Jeff Howe has captured a complex and vital change in the business landscape: in the next few years, your customers could become your collaborators, or your competitors. His ability to weave story and strategy together makes Crowdsourcing a readable and indispensable guide to this new world.”
—Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody

From the Hardcover edition.

Library Journal

Journalist Howe introduced the term crowdsourcing-the process by which the power of the many can be leveraged to accomplish feats once the province of the specialized few-in a June 2006 Wired magazine article; here, he expands on that concept. He cites examples of the application of crowdsourcing by such companies as NetFlix and YouTube, also discussing the drawbacks of the phenomenon. However, he remains confident that, under the proper circumstances, crowdsourcing offers tremendous benefits to society. Reader Kirby Heyborne (Little Brother) does a stellar job presenting this thought-provoking work, sounding appropriately serious or funny as warranted. Recommended for all audio collections. [Audio clips available through library.booksontape.comand www.randomhouse.com/audio.-Ed.]
—Stephen L. Hupp

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307396211
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/15/2009
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 992,212
  • Product dimensions: 7.92 (w) x 5.28 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

JEFF HOWE is a contributing editor at Wired magazine, where he covers the entertainment industry among other subjects. Before coming to Wired he was a senior editor at Inside.com and a writer at the Village Voice. In his fifteen years as a journalist, he has traveled around the world working on stories ranging from the impending water crisis in Central Asia to the implications of gene patenting. He has also written for U.S. News & World Report, Time magazine, the Washington Post, Mother Jones, and numerous other publications. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and children.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Dawn of the Human Network 1

Sect. I How We Got Here

1 The Rise of the Amateur: Fueling the Crowdsourcing Engine 23

2 From So Simple a Beginning: Drawing the Blueprint for Crowdsourcing 47

3 Faster, Cheaper, Smarter, Easier: Democratising the Means of Production 71

4 The Rise and Fall of the Firm: Turning Community into Commerce 98

Sect. II Where We Are

5 The Most Universal Quality: Why Diversity Trumps Ability 131

6 What the Crowd Knows: Collective Intelligence in Action 146

7 What the Crowd Creates: How the 1 Percent Is Changing the Way Work Gets Done 177

8 What the Crowd Thinks: How the 10 Percent Filters the Wheat from the Chaff 223

9 What the Crowd Funds: Reinventing Finance, Ten Bucks at a Time 247

Sect. III Where We're Going

10 Tomorrow's Crowd: The Age of the Digital Native 261

11 Conclusion: The Rules of Crowdsourcing 278

Notes 289

Index 304

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 10 of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 26, 2009

    Crowdsource Review

    The tone of Crowdsourcing is an informative tone, interspersed occasionally with a humorous tone. The informative tone helps to establish Jeff as an informed person, thus lending credence to his arguments and observations. The joking tone helps to make us feel as if Howe is also a friendly person that we would like to know. By making us like him he ensures that we listen to his points and take them to heart.
    The organization of the book can be broken into two main parts, the overall organization and the organization of each section. The overall organization of the book is broken down into three sections, the past, present, and future of Crowdsourcing. The past of Crowdsourcing talks about talks about the factors, such as the internet, that contributed to the advent of Crowdsourcing. In the present of Crowdsourcing Howe talks about the different forms of Crowdsourcing and how they are used in our world today. Last, the future of Crowdsourcing talks about the forms of Crowdsourcing that Howe predicts will be prevalent in the world of tomorrow. Within each of these three section Howe organizes his dissertation into two main sections. First he explains a concept and then he illustrates that concept with an anecdote or an example.

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  • Posted March 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A New Type of "Sourcing"

    With all the controversy surrounding outsourcing the real concern should be with "Crowdsourcing" or the willingness of international amateurs to accomplish tasks for little or no money, sometimes with quality equaling that or exceeding professionals. One may ask why people would do this or even if this phenomenon is true. I will not provide the motivations, as this is a large part of the book, but suffice it to say it is true. Crowdsourcing is a great assessment of this trend and outlines in detail what exactly crowdsourcing is, provides real world examples of crowdsourcing done both well and poorly, and explains why you as an individual, company, or industry should care about this trend. Crowdsourcing may take some time to complete as at times it reads as a business school text, however by the conclusion my guess is that you will find it to be worthwhile and find yourself better off than when you started.

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