Crowdsourcing is a powerful tool, and is fast becoming a standard way of getting what we all collectively want, even dream about. However, it isn’t the easiest to explain. So here’s a page dedicated to doing so in multiple ways, at multiple levels.
What’s the official definition?
According to the Jeff Howe, who coined the term in 2006 via his Wired magazine article, the short version is “the application of Open Source principles to fields outside of software,”, and the long version is “the act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call.” You can read longer definitions via its Wikipedia entry.
What are examples?
This is probably the most helpful to answer, and only until very recently was it properly addressed, thus why this entry wasn’t published until now. You can peruse some of the best examples on Wikipedia’s crowdsourcing list, and check out hundreds of examples via four categories in the public wiki, Crowdsourcing Examples, endorsed by Jeff Howe. It needs a crowdfunding and community-sponsored category though.
What books can I read to learn more?
Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business by Jeff Howe, 2008
We-Think: Mass Innovation, Not Mass Production: The Power of Mass Creativity by Charles Leadbetter, 2008
Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky, 2008
We Are Smarter Than Me: How to Unleash the Power of Crowds in Your Business by Barry Libert and Jon Spector, 2008
Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott, 2006
The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki, 2005
Crowdsourcing by Jeff Howe.
We Think by Charles Leadbetter.
What blogs can I read to learn more?
For crowdsourcing only, check out The Daily Crowdsource, and Jeff Howe’s own crowdsourcing blog. For crowdsourced placemaking, this site is pretty much your only resource :)