That's the question that Stephen Downes raises after reading "Get Ready To Participate: Crowds and Governance" published on Henry Jenkins blog and written by Daren C. Brabham, a Ph.D. candidate writing a thesis on crowdsourcing for problem solving.
I'm not sure if Stephen was talking about this type of seal, but think the metaphor of an army of trained navy seals carrying out a mission in military precision sees a better metaphor. If crowds can't be trained to appear like the cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland when needed, can they be facilitated?
This post provides a context for crowdsourcing since Jeff Howe coined the term "crowdsourcing" in his Wired article "The Rise of Crowdsourcing." It also lays out an argument of crowdsourcing for problem solving.
What I have argued for a few years now, and what I am trying to make clear in my dissertation, is that crowdsourcing has the potential to work outside of for-profit settings. In fact, it may be a suitable model for solving government problems, supplementing traditional forms of public participation to help government make better decisions with more citizen input.
I agree that crowdsourcing can be used outside of for-profit settings for problem solving. Brabham is focusing on how it can be used to supplement public participation to help government make better decisions. We're also seeing more nonprofits take this approach for fundraising, program development, and social change.
I just wanted to capture a couple of examples that came to me this week, well, through crowdsourcing.
- Crowdsourcing the Genome
- Nitrogen Wiki
- Next Stop Design Process
- Envision San Jose 2040 (There's even a platform to support the virtual charrette called "wiki planning"
- Seventh Generation is Crowdsourcing Book on Corporate Social Responsibility
Do you know of an example of crowdsourcing from a nonprofit organization? Was that crowd trained, facilitated, or orchestrated?