Crowdsourcing is rooted in democracy, where all voices are heard equally. It is a system where people have a say, to speak freely and join together in collective progress. blur Group, a crowdsourcing agency, recently published an article that outlines effective crowdsourcing initiatives and draws interesting democratic parallels to government:
‘Volunteer Crowdsourcing’: the most obvious. Frequently used for gathering dynamic views, reviews, opinion and feedback. People often ask how Crowdsourced views differ from market research. Market research is a closed, tightly scripted and statistical process. Crowdsourced views are more dynamic, fluid, open, conversational and community enhancing. The former is more limiting and allows for little spontaneity or out of the box thinking. The downside to the latter is that feedback is harder to control and the crowd can get ‘out of hand’.
Volunteer Crowdsourcing can work with any size of crowd – from a handful of niche enthusiasts to mass audience crowd initiatives. The key is recruiting the right fit crowd for the right initiative.
Volunteer Crowdsourcing could be extended to public services that specific segments of the public will get passionate about. For instance Crowdsourcing artists to develop public art schemes. Street art is an obvious case study. But volunteers could also be used to help with garbage clearance initiatives, re-cycling, clearing public spaces, mapping, policing, supporting school programmes and more. There is almost no end to the ways in which volunteer crowds could be used – the key to success lies in their effective recruitment, organization and the clarity/appeal of the mission.
Contest Driven Crowdsourcing: the safest form. Content based Crowdsourcing is becoming increasingly popular for one off, often commercial, projects. The idea is that you gather together a specialist crowd, for example techies, and have them compete to develop a new IT system. The provider(s) of the best solution wins the prize. Contest driven Crowdsourcing can be used for developing new IT systems, Web sites, innovation policies, architect drawings, public building design, public art commissions and more.
Contest driven Crowdsourcing must have a clear and detailed brief, a focused, specialist crowd, a Crowdsourcing Web platform and a prize that is both relevant and commensurate in value to the effort required – successful contestants should also get government backed PR – it will help keep the quality of entrants up for future contests. Successful contest driven Crowdsourcing is all about tight management and inspiring the best to compete!
Expertsourcing: the most sophisticated. Expertsourcing or Select Sourcing is one of the most advanced forms of Crowdsourcing. It is also the newest. Governments could use it to gather up focused, expert crowds from a variety of key disciplines within both the private and public sectors to come together in a more structured and permanent system to solve ‘bigger issues’. Expertsourcing requires that the experts either get paid for their advice, ideas, policies or creative inputs or have the opportunity to get involved in the implementation. At they very least they must be given ‘real’ accolades.
Expertsourcing could be cost effectively used to widen the number of advisors in government and move from the highly opinionated ‘celebrity’ advisor or hard-to-justify big consultancy with monster fees (and slow delivery records) to a more sophisticated, democratic, real-time and fluid spread of expert opinions makers and thinkers. The key to Expertsourcing is the make-up or mix of the crowd and its tight and inspired leadership, mission and rolling achievements. Access to the implementers is also critical to success and continuing engagement.
Crowdsourced Funding: good for charitable giving. Given how government budgets are getting slashed throughout the Western world Crowdsourced funding could prove to be a great stop gap mechanism for raising small mounts of cash from large amounts of people over the Internet to support very specific initiatives. It could support both domestic social change programs as well as targeted foreign priorities.
Crowdsourcing could change the way in which we are governed. It could even return us to a more open, involved form of democracy that I believe most electorates are screaming for. It will though take one bold leader to make it happen. Turn jargon and buzz into specific policies and programmes. Time to step beyond the spin?
blur Group is the leader in focused Crowdsourcing. blur’s Crowds of creative talent power its Web Marketplaces offering buyers of creative products and services unprecedented choice, value and flexibility. blur’s talented communities are made-up of designers, artists, marketing campaigns and writers.
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