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Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Completed Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business by Jeff Howe, who is a well known Wired writer.

I did not know that Howe had coined the term crowdsourcing as early as 2006. The book is a good overview, with lots of interesting examples. Based on his own interviews with various practitioners. He emphasises several examples which are notably 'cool', but he repeats some too often. He does not provide quite enough detail about such topics as prediction markets, only hinting at when they will work and when not.

He brings up the almost obligatory mention of Procter's work with Innocentive. Good, but that could have used some more detail about the relationship of open innovation and corporate needs, and how the results will ultimately be included in corporate developments. He uses crowdsourcing as an umbrella term, while I had thinking of it as a method that included stronger interaction among the 'crowd'.

Not much about efforts like Amazon's Mechanical Turk, which seek to source intelligent tasks. Would like to know how successful they have been and the kinds of tasks that need human intelligence.

I like his inclusion of Scott E Page's diversity of innovation results, where he includes good simple examples, though perhaps over positioning the results. Could have used more on the peer-to-patent work, which is just now developing.

Late in the book he discusses how to bring together a crowd for specific projects, which can be very useful. It is managing volunteers, even though the labor is free it has its own difficulties. Good thoughts.

This is again one of those descriptive survey books, which at the beginning of 2009 gives a reasonable journalistic overview of what is underway. A good overview for those interested, but it would be better to follow the changes in online media. Worth reading and having for examples. There is also a useful book's blog.

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