Edited by Andrej Savin and Jan Trzaskowski
Chapter 19: Crowdsourcing and user empowerment: a contradiction in terms?
The ubiquity of the Internet and information and communication technologies (ICTs), new production technologies, the advent of Web 2.0, as well as the growing culture of collaborating and sharing ideas and designs with others over the Internet have led to the emergence of new business models. One such model, which may come in different forms and guises, is crowdsourcing. The term ‘crowdsourcing’ was coined by Jeff Howe in 2006 to describe ‘the act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call’. According to Howe, this can take the form of peer-production, when the job is performed collaboratively, but it can also be undertaken by sole individuals. ‘The crucial prerequisite is the use of the open call format and the large network of potential labourers.’ Crowdsourcing need not require an active shift from current employees or contractors to the crowd; it can start with the crowd. Thus, some crowdsourcing sites enable anyone who comes up with an idea for a new product or service to submit the idea to a large community for discussion, input and feedback and, if the idea gathers enough backing and is approved, it is turned into a prototype and, eventually, into a commercial product or service. Other sites are open to a specific category of users, such as those in the creative arts, web designers, engineers and so on.
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