Ten years ago crowdsourcing wasn’t even a word. At the time, NASA was still trying to figure out how to get people they later called “clickworkers” to find and categorize photos of craters on Mars. And, in the greater scheme of things, the idea of connecting businesses, causes and people online was just beginning to sprout. It wasn’t until 2006 that Jeff Howe coined the phrase crowdsourcing.
In recent years the crowdsourcing model has been exploding across the public and private sectors due to an intelligent global crowd connected at greater than T1 bandwidth on any browser anywhere. Capabilities born out of the crowd in the cloud are near-limitless. Be it businesses and the workforce, artists and museums, volunteers and disaster relief – the power to collect, share, collaborate and distribute information, is changing the way projects get done. That´s what motivated me five years ago to leave the security of venture capital to take what we Germans call a Vertrauensvorschuss – a leap of faith – into the world of crowdsourcing.
From what I’ve seen as CEO of the leading international crowdsourcing company Clickworker (and coming from a professional background of starting and developing companies in IT, media and travel industries – both in my native Germany as well as in France and the US), I expect crowdsourcing to be one of the strongest forces to change the way the world gets large scale projects completed very efficiently.
I’m writing to you from the first-ever European crowdsourcing conference, Crowdconvention, in Berlin – where I’m meeting with some of the industry’s luminaries, including the infamous Jeff Howe himself, and other crowdsourcing innovators. (And I’m looking forward to mingling over a cold heferweizen at the afterparty.)
We have a lot to celebrate. Just in the last year, I’ve watched the industry and our tools get smarter and more versatile. Remember the fans who bought up their semi-professional English soccer team? Or the German police who used crowdsourcing to find criminals on the run? Who could forget the thousands of people all over the world who began directly engaging with politicians and each other using platforms like Twitter?
In that same year, I’ve also watched my company’s crowd grow from 45,000 to over 100,000 people – a mark we proudly reached just a few days ago. Wunderbar! But enough from this old Germanski. This weekly blog project isn’t really for me – it’s for you! Sure, I’ll be tipping you off to the latest events and innovations, and offering some perspective on uses of crowdsourcing each week. But this blog should also serve as a springboard for discussion and debate. And I will be asking you to contribute, too!
Let’s lead by example and work together to share and inspire! Auf Wiedersehen!
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