What Power Can the Crowd Have?
The power of the crowd is similar to the phrases: “There’s strength in numbers” and “Two minds are better than one”. In other words, the more people who are involved in something, the more knowledge there will be. Yet knowledge isn’t the only thing that the crowd brings to the table. Understandibly, companies and individuals are using technology more and more yet people will always have to be a part of the process somewhere. For example, some may think that with technological advancements that researchers would be attempting to use computers as much as possible for data analysis and prediction. However, this isn’t true when tasks have a strong visual aspect, in these situations humans are still better. Therefore, a crowd can perform much better than even very advanced algorithms.
In some situations, researchers may not have access to these sophisticated computers and software meaning humans must be involved. However, this doesn’t mean that humans are infallible. They can become bored and lose focus leading to mistakes being made. Of course, being paid or gaining other incentives can help, along with gamification to make the process more engaging. Crowds can have power in numbers, one person working on a project could take a week to reach their goal. But a crowd of 100 could finish it in hours meaning tight deadlines can be reach. Additionally, the crowd can cross examine one another’s work for accuracy. Also, the crowd can bring new insights and ideas to the fore, this can lead to even better production.
Risks and Benefits
As we all know, there are good and bad people in this world, some may try to use the power of the crowd to their advantage. National Socialism showed that the use of propaganda can sway the crowd, especially in hard times. This in turn, can lead to some bad or even dangerous decisions and actions being made. This mass persuasion can lead people to become disillusioned and get swept up by the majority crowd meaning they don’t dare speak out. Psychologists show that in some scenarios crowds can quickly form an opinion thatmatches the group consensus. This can happen in many areas such as politics and making policies, again, this often occurs when there is a leader in charge.
The power of the crowd has a number of benefits as well. Mass movements have often impressively proved that the will of the population at large will ultimately prevail. Some examples are the French Revolution, the fall of the Berlin Wall or the Arab Spring. Research shows that during emergencies and natural disasters the crowd will usually come together and support one another with no prior planning. This isn’t just done in person as shown in the London 7/7 bombings where people helped one another to get help, shared water, and bandaged injuries. It is also shown online, people will mark themselves as safe during disasters and curing covid local crowds formed mutual aid groups to help the vulnerable. The power of the crowd can also be used selectively. Tasks can be efficiently solved through division of labor or mutual targets achieved with agreements.
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Development Through the Internet
The development of the Internet has also changed the ability of mass movements. New opportunities have arisen in particular in the crowdsourcing sectors. Many people can simultaneously access a database or enter information on a platform. Portals, for example clickworker, use this opportunity and have tasks solved by many users together. These platforms offer many options to businesses, educational facilities and individuals. For example, a company may wish to make their website content more relevant, modern, and become SEO optimised. However, that company may not have someone in their team to do that kind of work. Additionally, they may want this work done fast and hiring an entire team for a one off project would take too long. The power of the crowd can step in here in the form of a crowdworking platform. The company can hire the crowd and use them to their advantage saving time and money.
Ways to Use the Power of the Crowd
Engaging a group or crowd to work towards a common goal is known as crowdsourcing. These goals are often rooted in innovation, creation, solving problems, worker faster and smarter and many different industries utilise the crowd for this. This collective working has become more popular since the growth of the internet as the crowd do not have to physically be with one another. Here are some different types of crowdsourcing:Crowdfunding
Sites such as Kickstarter see people come together to fund a project, item, or idea. Additionally, sites like GoFundMe are usually reserved for charities or individuals requiring help and assistance.
Clickworker and Appen are examples of this. Tasks small and larger are offered to the crowd of workers who have registered with the platform. Often large tasks are split into microtasks for the crowd to complete in a timely manner.
Companies will ask the public crowd to come up with a new creation for their products or brand. This may be a logo or a new design, submissions are received and a winner is chosen and paid or rewarded.
Similar to creation but companies will ask the crowd for ideas and solutions all whilst building reputation and gaining knowledge on what the public actually want.
Often seen on reality TV shows, the viewers can vote for their favourite person to remain in a show. It is also used by companies in the form of market research to see what people would like to see. This is used when a company is considering new ideas.
The crowd gathers and fact checks information on many topics and shares them with the public. A good example of this is Wikipedia.