Crowdsourcing Haters Will Go Down with the Ship

When Dylan wrote ‘The Times They Are a Changin’” about the civil rights movement in 1963, he suggested the old order better start swimming before they sink like a stone. You could listen to his lyrics today and aptly apply them to the tsunami of change created by the advent of the web. Less important, we know, but with similarly universal impact. We’re all in the water.

You can’t afford to be a naysayer, a Luddite or a hater for too long because it doesn’t take too long for new ways of doing things to take hold these days. Take crowdsourcing. Wired’s Jeff Howe only came up with the term in 2006. Six years later there are online platforms to help you crowdsource all sorts of things; from finding someone to do the menial stuff you’d rather not (“re-order me a 10lb bag of kitty litter please, Anisha”), to groups who work on the world’s most complex problems.
Here’s a great example: In less than a week a PhD student in glaciology solved a problem which NASA’s physicists had been working on for decades; how to map the universe’s dark matter. He answered an open call via Kaggle, a site which crowdsources genius from a pool of PhD’s.

Not all crowdsourcing is exploitative or threatening to people’s jobs. There are plenty of ways you can use crowdsourcing to improve the quality of your work or your efficiency. Look for platforms that provide a win-win for you and the supplier. A good example is ImageBrief, a site that allows you to brief the shot you want directly to a pool of creative industry photographers around the world. The photographers upload shots they have on hand that meet the brief so it only takes them a few minutes. And if their shot is chosen, they get paid 70% of your budget for the image, so it’s worth their while.

And by the way, that Romanian kid with the haircut your wore in the 80s and a talent for knocking out nifty logo designs is not trying to take your job or devalue your industry. He’s just swimming. And he’s adapted his style to keep him afloat in today’s conditions. The jobs they are a changin’. And to keep yours, keep doing the stuff individuals in the crowd can’t easily do. Lead, inspire, manage complex tasks, know your client like your mother, and work with well with your team. In short, the ‘director’ part of Art Director.

By Simon Moss
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