Thar’s gold in them thar crowds!

August 24, 2008 By Peter
Crowd Sourcing by Jeff Howe
Crowd Sourcing by Jeff Howe

Warning: It’s coming. Whatever you do to make money, no matter how innovative, crowdsourcing will deliver it cheaper from the world at large. If not today, soon.

Just ask any professional photographer who has labored to peddle pics to stock photo houses. What they used to get paid $300 a shot for, buyers now can get for a dollar.

Crowdsourcing is sort of like outsourcing with a captialistic vengence and technological superpowers. So it goes with innovation.


As a writer, one who writes for food, I can tell you what a commodity punching the keyboard has become. Visit any freelance-for-hire site and check out the prices word-buyers are offering for our services. More disturbing, notice the bids writers make for 350-word articles. Four dollars! It’s right there in Mechanical Turk. For all kinds of personal and professional services. 

Luckily most of what the crowd is able to deliver smells like caca. You still get what you pay for. These days you  usually get more. It’s a buyer’s market with an auction-house chip on its shoulder.

Of course, if you’re really smart, like Jeff Howe, you write a book about the phenomenon that otherwise might kill you. Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business And while you’re at it, a blog about Crowdsourcing on Wired.

But isn’t this the way of the world? “Thar’s gold in them thar hills!” The first to get to the gold strike it big. Then those less quick to abandon their lives of quiet desperation arrive in time to scrape up the crumbs. In a few years, another once-wild cluster of boom towns has settled into comfortable conformity.

Innovation and invention need this rough-and-tumble free-for-all scramble. Watch for an interview with Jeff Howe here on the Idea Connection. If it’s not too late, he might be able to help us all make the most of the latest rush–crowdsourcing.

Peter Lloyd writes Right Brain Workouts for IdeaConnection.

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