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IN RESPONSE: On Crowdsourcing
Ian, I have been following your posts for months and would like to offer my opinion to your latest, “On Crowdsourcing”. In the interest of transparency, I should let you and your readers know that I am an advocate of Crowdsourcing and work for CrowdSource.com.
I find it interesting that you equated Louis CK’s arrangement with FX as an argument against using the “wisdom of crowds”. Though I agree that input from Bob, Mary, John and Lisa may not enhance the creativity of Louis, I think it is important to distinguish between creative contributions and creative control. Mandating consensus with regard to creative decisions can dilute the message of the content being produced. However, leveraging a crowd, can give “creatives” access to a diverse talent pool on an unprecedented global scale.
To quote Alex Bogusky, “the future is never what you expect it to be…I never predicted the role that technology might play and certainly not its latest role in the crowdsourcing of ideas.” Alex goes on to attribute his success and that of his agency to their ability to single out the best ideas and bring them to fruition. It is this idea that is core to my response. Just because a crowd is used to produce ideas or creative concepts, does not inherently dilute the value of the final product. It does however increase the need to monitor the contributions and enhances the value of those that are best at identifying quality ideas. In the same article, Alex goes on to state that CP+B utilizes crowdsourcing for projects such as logo design (Brammo) while maintaining the creative control you mentioned.
I suggest that CrowdSourcing is fundamentally changing the way that companies do business and crowds are increasingly being used to drive innovation. The key, is to harness the power of the crowd, while maintaining the autonomy to make decisions as you see fit. Numerous companies including, Dell, Starbucks, Google, Netflix and even Apple have embraced innovation from crowds.
You mentioned Steve Jobs’ famous quote, “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups,” and I would like to point out that Apple routinely uses a crowd (its users) to solve design issues. As recently as last month, Apple was contacting users directly in an attempt to find a solution to the iPhone 4S’s battery problems. I recognize that this is not the same as design by committee, but it does illustrate the value of using a diverse crowd to solve business problems, including those relating to design.
I truly believe that crowdsourcing is fundamentally changing the landscape of business as we know it. Crowdsourcing ideas is not a new concept, but the speed and efficiency with which we can create curated crowds, glean quality ideas and disseminate these ideas as finished products to the masses is a phenomenon that has only become possible recently. One really interesting example is J.K Rowling’s newest project, Pottermore [http://youtu.be/oYs1d3jAdG0].

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  • I work at Ogilvy. The views expressed on this blog are my personal opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer or its clients.

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