|By Hollis Tibbetts||
|October 1, 2011 01:00 PM EDT||
As you might know from some of my previous writing, I've been on a bit of an expedition to uncover the true meaning of "Crowdsourcing". I'm by no means finished, but I've:
- Just returned from TopCoder's TCO11 competition, where I spoke with so many people I can't count them all.
- Read so many web pages, analyst reports, white papers, case studies and PDF documents my eyes hurt.
- Emailed back and forth with a bunch of people, and worn out more than one battery talking to people over the phone on this topic.
In fact, I just got off the phone not 30 minutes ago with the VP of Marketing at a prominent San Francisco-based "Crowdsourcing" company who gave me an overview of their company, their value proposition, the use cases for their product, etc.
My conclusion: "Crowdsourcing" is stupid.
I don't mean that the ideas are stupid. Or that the business models are stupid. Or what these companies are doing is stupid.
Quite the opposite - I think these companies are on the forefront of some very exciting innovation. Some of the companies that I've spoken with will undoubtedly change the way we do things, and possibly the way we think about things.
What I think is stupid is the term "CROWDSOURCING" - especially as it applies to a category of software products and services.
There is so much confusion surrounding the term "Crowdsourcing". It means completely different things to different people.
If you take a look at all the companies out there that get labelled as "Crowdsourcing" companies, it's really pretty clear that the only similarity these companies have is that there is a "crowd" involved somewhere. Even then, the similarity is pretty tentative as "crowd" means very different things to different companies.
Somehow or another, this category called "Crowdsourcing" got invented, and it's a cool sounding word. How can you not (at least at first glance) like that word? It is a brilliant word.
As a category though, it's about as useful as the word "food". The word "food" is almost meaningless as a product category:
- To Gordon Ramsay, something doesn't qualify as "food" unless it hits an exacting level of perfection.
- To a typical college student, food is entirely different and usually involves pizza, burgers, ramen noodles or cafeteria fare.
- To a starving child in Bangledesh, food might be anything edible that comes off the U.N. truck.
- To a "back to the earth Vegan", food might be something that grows in the back yard
- To the robins that stop by to visit the yard, food means that some unfortunate worm just got eaten.
- To a fungus, it's dead plants and animals.
- To a baby, it often comes in a jar and comes from some company like Gerber, and to an infant, it comes from Mommy or from a bottle.
- I have a pig who hangs out in my back yard - to him, food is pretty much anything including fiberglass insulation, circuit boards and lightbulbs (yes, he's eaten all those things and more to complement his daily regimen of pig chow and vegetables).
So if I decided to form a "food" company, that really wouldn't wouldn't say much about what my company was about, would it? It would probably just confuse people, and I'd almost be better off not saying anything at all.
So it's no wonder that there is so much confusion about the "Crowdsourcing" market. It's a relatively new space, evolving rapidly, with quite a few vendors who are doing very different things, with totally, even wildly different value propositions.
Hopefully the category-creators out there will start to come up with some labels for what their companies do that stick, so that this category-confusion can subside.
In the meanwhile, I'm working on segmenting this into logical chunks that will (hopefully) make things a bit less confusing - at least for me. Maybe for you too.
- ARM Server to Transform #BigData to #IoT | @CloudExpo #DigitalTransformation
- Software Quality Best Practices: Healthy Software
- Twenty-Thousand Men Pregnant Because of Bad Data
- $3 Trillion Problem: Three Best Practices for Today's Dirty Data Pandemic
- Question: Why Is IT Project Failure Always an Option?
- Why Infrastructure Technology Is Challenging
- Modernization of IT: Solving a Legacy of Business Problems & Applications
- Flourishing ARM Server Market Creates Opportunity – for Software
- Legacy Modernization
- Klout Crisis Leads to Tough Questions for PROskore Founder Bill Jula