Why Crowdsourcing Is Stupid
Category-confusion and the word "Crowdsourcing".
By: Hollis Tibbetts
Oct. 1, 2011 01:00 PM
As you might know from some of my previous writing, I've been on a bit of an expedition to uncover the true meaning of "Crowdsourcing". I'm by no means finished, but I've:
In fact, I just got off the phone not 30 minutes ago with the VP of Marketing at a prominent San Francisco-based "Crowdsourcing" company who gave me an overview of their company, their value proposition, the use cases for their product, etc.
My conclusion: "Crowdsourcing" is stupid.
Quite the opposite - I think these companies are on the forefront of some very exciting innovation. Some of the companies that I've spoken with will undoubtedly change the way we do things, and possibly the way we think about things.
What I think is stupid is the term "CROWDSOURCING" - especially as it applies to a category of software products and services.
There is so much confusion surrounding the term "Crowdsourcing". It means completely different things to different people.
If you take a look at all the companies out there that get labelled as "Crowdsourcing" companies, it's really pretty clear that the only similarity these companies have is that there is a "crowd" involved somewhere. Even then, the similarity is pretty tentative as "crowd" means very different things to different companies.
Somehow or another, this category called "Crowdsourcing" got invented, and it's a cool sounding word. How can you not (at least at first glance) like that word? It is a brilliant word.
As a category though, it's about as useful as the word "food". The word "food" is almost meaningless as a product category:
So if I decided to form a "food" company, that really wouldn't wouldn't say much about what my company was about, would it? It would probably just confuse people, and I'd almost be better off not saying anything at all.
So it's no wonder that there is so much confusion about the "Crowdsourcing" market. It's a relatively new space, evolving rapidly, with quite a few vendors who are doing very different things, with totally, even wildly different value propositions.
Hopefully the category-creators out there will start to come up with some labels for what their companies do that stick, so that this category-confusion can subside.
In the meanwhile, I'm working on segmenting this into logical chunks that will (hopefully) make things a bit less confusing - at least for me. Maybe for you too.