A recent term, crowdsourcing, originated with several journalists in 2006 at Wired magazine who were working on an article on how companies use members of the general public to help them solve problems. One described it as outsourcing to the crowd, the other shortened it to crowdsourcing. One, Jeff Howe, now writes a Blog on crowdsourcing. It means to obtain services or ideas by asking a large online community, as opposed to asking someone who works for you. In effect, it allows someone to tap into the collective intelligence of the public to solve a problem or obtain services, usually without having to pay anyone for the help.









In environmental fields, crowdsourcing can be used to gather information from the public on environmental hazards or spills with maps and photos, often by smartphones or computers, and all of the data can be posted online with follow ups to see if action was taken by the appropriate authorities. People can report environmental violations at the time they occur and even document with photographs, with the caveat that caution should be exercised. In another instance, an environmental organization, EDF, worked with a company, to ask the public for a solution to find ways to battle agricultural nitrate pollution. The winning submission received a $5,000 award. Finally, a recent study showed how crowdsourcing can be sued to support environmental community activism.

Some further ideas to explore on Crowdsourcing

Determine how crowdsourcing could be used to help an organization or group you belong to.

Think of ways you could contribute to crowdsourcing to help someone else or some other organization.


William Safire, “On Language,” New York Times Magazine (5 Feb 2009). www.nytimes.com/2009/02/08/magazine/08wwln-safire-t.html?_r=4&ref=magazine&

“Crowdsourcing” in Merriam-Webster at www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/crowdsourcing

Jeff Howe, “Crowdsourcing,” www.crowdsourcing.com/

Ian James, “Using crowdscourcing to map environmental hazards,” voices.mydesert.com/2013/05/10/using-crowdsourcing-to-map-environmental-hazards/

Stacey Vandenberg, “Findng Green Solutions Through Crowdsourcing,” dailycrowdsource.com/crowdsourcing/news/728-finding-green-solutions-through-crowdsourcing

Elaine Massung, David Coyle, Kirsten Cater, Marc Jay, Chris Preist, Using Crowdsourcing to Support Pro-Environmental Community Activism (2013) sust.cs.bris.ac.uk/closethedoor/CrowdsourcingCommunityActivism.pdf

The image is from www.diabetesmine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/crowdsourcing.jpg





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