Centralized Control Behind Crowdsourcing

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Tiberius Brastaviceanu:

"There are two important patterns of crowdsourcing

  • A company creating and maintaining it's own crowd for harvesting - the case of FIAT and its Mio project.
  • A web-based company offering a matchmaking service between companies' needs and the crowd - http://www.ideaken.com/

In both cases, the crowdsourcing concept supposes a powerful entity (the outsourceR or the matchmaking service provider), which has some advantage (informational, logistical, financial, economical...) over the crowd, and the crowd, which is seen here as disorganized but potent or resourceful. It is implicitly assumed that this powerful entity is necessary to channel potential out of the crowd. In other words, the crowd alone is seen as incapable of producing a coherent output. For that matter, and for others too, it seams justified for this powerful entity, acting as a center of analysis and coordination, to keep the biggest part of the reward/revenues and to reward the crowd just enough.

When it comes to motivation, there is a fundamental difference between outsourcing and crowdsourcing. The outsourceR has more influence over the outsourceE than over each individual in the crowd. Moreover, negative incentive doesn't work on the crowd. The outsourceR must become seductive, attractive and must give something in return, something that the crowd likes. In some cases the crowd asks for the knowledge behind the product to be public, and this leads to a variety of open innovation and open products. This variety of open innovation is not based on altruistic sharing. It is very individualistic, based on the realization that hyper-innovation (which is unleashed by crowdsourcing) is economically more viable than a defensive tactic based on intellectual property protection.

Structurally speaking, a crowdsourcing network is highly centralized.

The multitude movement we are observing is a movement that empowers the individual. We are all waking up realizing that we have power as individuals AND as groups. We are also realizing that power relations are not necessary anymore to organize ourselves in large and productive/efficient groups, if we have at our disposal effective means of communication and coordination. Hence the growing tendency to form decentralized networks rather than hierarchies. In fact, it is possible for a decentralized value network to self-structure and to produce very complex output. We don't need that powerful entity to analyse and coordinate action. That entity has lost its power, because it doesn't play a necessary and irreplaceable role anymore. That entity is still strong today, because it still has under its control important assets and capacity of production. But these things are now being transferred to the crowd. So we don't need a corporation to milk the crowd anymore. The crowd can deliver by itself.

SENSORICA, the open value network I am setting up is an example of a system centered around the individual and its capacity to work in collaboration. SENSORICA is not an entity exploiting the crowd, it is the crowd creating solutions for its own problems. It's mode of production is commons-based peer production (Yochai Benkler).

So let's make it clear, crowdsourcing and commons-based peer production are two very different things!" (http://multitudeproject.blogspot.ca/2011/06/why-i-dont-like-crowdsourcing.html)