Jul 23 2009

Power to the people

Over the last 6 months I’ve noticed a large number of business plans that are incorporating some form of “crowdsourcing” into their business models. Crowdsourcing, popularized by James Surowiecki excellent book The Wisdom of Crowds, seeks to harness the power of the masses with the idea that the “crowd” can often produce a better result than any given individual (in the classic crowdsouring example a large group tries to guess the number of gumballs in a jar; typically the average guess is closer to the right number than any individual guess – the crowd as a whole is better than even it’s smartest individual member). 

There are some great business ideas around this – particularly ones that truly take advantage of the wisdom of crowds (as opposed to those that just take advantage of the brute force of having large numbers of people at your disposal to push through a repetitive task – these can be interesting businesses as well but aren’t exactly what I’m talking about). I’ve been working on a business that uses these principals in some unique ways which I’ll write about soon (although for now the company is keeping the specifics of its business close). I’m curious what other crowdsourced ideas people have seen and liked out there.