Journal/20 Frimaire CCXV from Evan Prodromou

Do you want to know a word I don't like? Of course you do. Why would you be reading my blog if you weren't interested in my trivial impressions and conceits?

The word I don't like is crowdsourcing. It's a snappy little business term for opening up your information-development processes -- like software, documentation, or other text -- and letting the hoi polloi do all your work for you. As opposed to outsourcing, you don't have to pay these suckers; they'll do the work for free! So say the crowdsourcing advocates.

I don't like the term because from the crowdsourcing point of view the generous, altruistic action on the part of contributors becomes a clever exploitation on the part of the platform provider. People don't contribute to Open Source software, wikis, or other Open Content projects because they're dumb. They do it because they have skills, experience and information that they want to share with their neighbor.

Of course, I think it would be pretty cool if companies used crowdsourcing for some of the tasks they've been outsourcing in previous years. Like, say, if the 1-800 telephone support number for a company didn't go to a call centre in Moncton but instead multiplexed out to other customers' home phones. Or if everyone who bought a shirt from the Gap had to also spend a few minutes at the sewing machine making purses.

I hope this terms goes the way of other marketing and Web jargon.

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