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 Religion/Business/Forum
  • Publication date: 9/15/2009
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 987,251
  • 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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