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The Crowdsourcing Trend

Companies use contests, prizes to draw talent





Crowdsourcing has become a practical way for companies to find outside talent to perform task-based projects or contribute ideas for new products and services. Computing and software professionals can often benefit from the crowdsourcing trend because their skills are often well-suited to independent projects that can be performed remotely. But the use of crowds-based talent for corporate projects can also take jobs away from internal staff, which isn’t a good thing.

Whether crowdsourcing represents an opportunity or threat for computing professionals, the trend is already established and will only gain more traction in years to come. For those who haven’t contributed to a crowdsourced project or been affected by it, it’s time to pay attention to the trend and, perhaps, prepare a strategy for dealing with it.

“Recognize that it is happening,” advised Carl Esposti, founder of crowdsourcing.org, which tracks the industry. “It’s happening and an absolute inevitability that a new market for work is being created on both the supply and demand sides. An individual may not like this and may not want to participate, but they have no choice.”



Crowdsourcing: Opportunity or Threat?
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The Myth of Individual Invention


The Swarming essay drew the interest and comments of many readers. Most of the retorts evoked deeply held fears of one’s individualism being threatened. Society has taught us that survival owes to our salary at our job, and that our job owes to our individual performance. Society has reinforced those notions with accolades of individual accomplishment: patents, promotions, and promises of favor. Culture needs and has always needed such rituals, and we shouldn’t minimize their contribution. It is, however, important to know that they work differently in different cultures, and that there is a much, much bigger picture.

If one looks beyond the cultural trappings of recognition, it has long been known that it is society, and not individuals, who invent. The anthropologist Kroeber, in his book Anthropology (1923, Harcourt, Brace and World), tells us that “as long as the matter [of the nature of genius] is viewed simply as one of persons, it remains rather meaningless.” Many people invent, but “[o]nly a fraction are ever found out, or allowed the rank by history.” He lists inventions discovered by multiple inventors thousands of miles apart within months of each other: the telephone, telescope, steamboat, phonograph, natural selection, and dozens more. How can an individual in good conscience claim ownership of a novel idea?

You can argue that even if this is true, that society demands recognition of accomplishment on the Pavlovian basis that people do what they are rewarded for. Rewards are important as cultural artefacts; but we know from Edward Deci’s Why We Do What We Do, from Daniel Pink’s book Drive: The Truth about What Motivates Us, and dozens of other sources, it’s all about the intrinsic sense of accomplishment than any extrinsic motivator.


Desperate Times Call for Hopeful Measures

Raise the bar on self-improvement

A recent Time magazine article featured a new phenomenon in today’s job market. Apparently, at least some job seekers are now offering a financial reward to anyone who can hook them up with an appropriate employment opportunity. While desperate times may call for desperate measures, however, this do-it-yourself referral program is a hopeless investment. The money would be better spent on a do-it-yourself self-improvement program.



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