Friday, October 30, 2009

Crowdsourcing - The Wisdom of the Crowd

Just how wise is the crowd anyway? Everyone is talking about crowdsourcing, or using the talent of the crowd, to create solutions and/or content for business. It can also be used on a personal level to put problems out there “into the cloud” and taking the combined opinion of “people in the cloud” to determine the best solution by way of the most popular answer. There are hundreds of social networking websites that can be used for this purpose… Facebook and Twitter are probably the most popular right now.

A great example of this was a recent episode of House where the patient was a high tech software developer who owned a very successful internet company but, of course, had an un-diagnosable disease. (Remember it is House, after all… and no, it was not Lupus! ;)

When the first few attempts of House’s team to diagnose what was the cause of his illness went horribly wrong, he posted his symptoms on the internet and offered a reward to the person with the correct diagnosis. And the correct diagnosis was submitted by one of the people in the crowd… in this case the crowd was pretty wise. (Actually it was House who solved the mystery anonymously since he didn’t have his medical license back yet.)

Sometimes I am so at a loss for a solution that I ask advice from almost anyone I come in contact with… the person on the other end of the phone, the cashier at the store, the neighbor walking their dog, the person in the elevator in our building at work. Almost any opinion is better than not having an answer. Maybe there is something to this Wisdom of the Crowd after all… what do you think?