The practice of crowdsourcing is transforming the Web and giving rise to a new field.
You are searching for a definition to crowdsourcingbut Jeff Howe provided a very good definition when he defined crowdsourcing in his book. It's on Wikipedia:
Crowdsourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks to an undefined, large group of people, through an open call.
Jeff Howe goes into detail on the definition in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0-UtNg3ots
A less commercial approach comes from Dutch born Henk van Ess (http://www.searchbistro.com): Crowdsourcing is channelling the experts' desire to solve a problem and then freely sharing the answer with everyone.
Van Ess will do a two day seminar in Berlin early April: http://henkvaness.myfullseat.com/events/379006-Serious-Social-Media-crowdsourcing
At http://crowdsourcing.org we identify seven categories of crowdsourcing systems.
* OPEN INNOVATION - Use of sources outside of the entity or group to generate, develop and implement ideas.
In a world of widely distributed knowledge, where the boundaries between a firm and its environment have become more permeable, companies cannot afford to rely entirely on their own research and ideas to maintain a competitive advantage.
* COMMUNITY BUILDING - Development of communities through active engagement of individuals who share common passions, beliefs or interests.
Crowdsourcing can be used to increase audience engagement and build loyalty through online dialogue with customers or a broader population. It can also be leveraged to provide a forum where views and opinions can be shared, ideas can be generated, and to receive feedback on products and services.
* COLLECTIVE CREATIVITY - Tapping of creative talent pools to design and develop original art, media or content.
Crowdsourcing is used to tap into online communities of thousands of creatives to develop original products and concepts, including photography, advertising, film, video production, graphic design, apparel, consumer goods, and branding concepts.
* CIVIC ENGAGEMENT - Collective actions that address issues of public concern.
Crowdsourcing can be leveraged for social initiatives such as community programs, social production, group organizing, environmental issues, medicine, government and politics, and religion. These are non-commercial applications of Crowdsourcing where individuals or groups are invested in bettering the lives of others and in sharing information on beliefs, passions and causes.
* COLLECTIVE KNOWLEDGE - Development of knowledge assets or information resources from a distributed pool of contributors.
Crowdsourcing is used to develop, aggregate, and share knowledge and information through open Q&A, user-generated knowledge systems, news, citizen journalism, and forecasting.
* CROWDFUNDING - Financial contributions from online investors, sponsors or donors to fund for-profit or non-profit initiatives or enterprises.
Crowdfunding has four financial model types: (1) as a donation with no expected financial return (2) in return for a share of revenues or royalties (3) to include capital and interest payments (4) in exchage for equity. crowdfunding is an approach to raising capital for a new projects and businesses by soliciting contributions from a large number of stakeholders.
* CLOUD LABOR - Leveraging of a distributed virtual labor pool, available on-demand to fulfill a range of tasks from simple to complex.
Crowdsourcing is used to connect labor demand and supply. Virtual workers perform activities that range from simple to specialized tasks.
Carl Esposti, Founder
I think that the article does not make a difference between crowdsourcing (in the field of marketing) and crowdfunding (in the field of Social System and Social Network Site).
I think there is a substantial difference.
See for example: 6.4 Dal Crowdsourcing al Crowdfunding.ppt on Slideshare.net
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