Assessment 3

Crowdsourcing and social media

Aida Naizabekova – SID 470146990

Tuition time: Friday 12-2 pm, Rachael Bolton

If there is one word that describes the particular aspect of social media, it would be “participation”. Unlike the mass media before it, social media is essentially a participative medium. (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013) Individuals now share knowledge, computing power, bandwidth, and other resources to create a wide array of free and open source ideas that can be used in solving various problems and producing materials, operating systems, encyclopedias, the media, mutual fund and even physical things like motorcycle. Crowd turned to a beneficial source of multiple users’ feedback and collaboration that helps to enhance ideas for a minimal price. Strong engagement of the community so rapidly suggests that there is a great deal of value in crowdsourcing, especially when people perceive they are helping the community.

Concept of ‘crowdsourcing’  

The first attempts of crowdsourcing definition were published in academic journals by 2008. The phenomenon was considered from the perspectives of the participants and reasons of their participation, tools used across various cases, or degree of complexity or degree of user participation. These attempts resulted in competing definitions of the phenomenon and different mutually exclusive interpretations.

In 2002 in the article of Journal of Information and Science, after systematic analysis and validation of many opinions, the definition of crowdsourcing was given:

 “Crowdsourcing is a type of participative online activity in which an individual, an institution, a non-profit organisation, or company purposes to a group of individuals of varying knowledge, heterogeneity, and number, via flexible open call, the voluntary undertaking of a task”.

In other words, crowdsourcing means to denote the process of solving problems with the help of the masses by the web. It is an open and directed to an undefined audience process based on the broad range of factors that occurred with development of social media, where participation can take various forms of agency from user generated content, in which users forward content made by others, to user created content , in which users the content is made by users. Every time we participate we partake in various forms of labor sharing – from creative and social, to emotional and affective labor. (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013)

Crowdsourcing as social media in general, is a two-way communication, conversation, in which audience considered as media ‘produser’.  Instead of simply responding to content that has been created by an organisation here the user process becomes the source of the original material. Such participatory culture is also one in which members believe their contributions matter, and feel some degree of social connection with one another (at the least they care about people’s opinion of what they have created).

Crowdsourcing is a new skill that requires organisations to recognise and seize opportunities to build new products and services, determining its benefits such as connecting with users, decreasing costs, harnessing external talent, transparency or developing of social capital and others. These examples suggest a range of ways in which crowdsourcing creates value and competitive advantages. But with that promise comes a warning, crowdsourcing as a kind of peer production has its share of trials and limitations, however. It involves less control and requires practitioners to learn and abide by the rules of scientific and creative communities. It involves designing new incentive structures and forgoing creative business models that allow to simultaneously harvest and contribute.

Areas of use  

Crowdsourcing is applicable in a large scale of operational decisions and solution of problems faced by organisation, government and people in general, from the production of consumer goods and media content to science and policy. In commercial sphere crowdsourcing are brought together with ‘crowd contests’, or ‘asking a crowd for work and only providing compensation to the chosen entries’ and the ‘wisdom of the crowds’ (collective decision-making or problem solving). As example, on February 4 of 2013 Porsche started Facebook campaign asking its fans to choose an exterior colour, customize the wheel and background interior. This post reached 16,000 likes and 1,200 comments. In result, company released unique 911 Carrera 4S of Aqua Blue Metallic colour, victorious the most fans support, and plus to this, get a numerous active audience on Facebook.

The act of crowdsourcing in cultural institutions as museums, libraries, and archives is purposed to improve new relationships with the audience, to convert their mission to dynamic digital data. “Click!” is a photography exhibition of Brooklyn Museum used online crowdsourcing, inviting its online and general audience to participate in the exhibition process.

In relation to governmental institutions, crowdsourcing became an instrument of analysing large amounts of data, finding and collecting information into a common and format, or creating and selecting creative ideas. For example, in 2009, the White House launched the first SAVE Award competition. The award offers the federal employees the opportunity to share ideas for ways to make government more efficient.

Crowdsourcing projects


Crowd Labor

“Mechanical Turk”, as an example of crowdjobbing project, is a solution offered by Amazon, the stated goal of which was to create a labor market. Users operate as computing elements to perform those tasks that cannot be easily automated through machines, such as identifying elements within images or transcribing audio clips. Such projects are interesting because they suggest a speedy access to a workforce, a high volume of available labor and a wide variety of potentially-interested individuals, a permanently available workforce, and the fact that payment is made by the commissioning party only once the task has been completed. But also it has some ethical limitations, there are barriers against a remote use and without verification of low-cost work force, and limitation related to the type of task that can be involved.

Crowd Science

InnoCentive is a platform for corporate research where scientific problems are posted by companies to be studied by crowds of possible solvers. It was founded in 2002 and focused on providing research and development solutions for a broad range of topic areas, from biomedical concerns to computer science knowledge. In one hand, it accelerates efforts online, allowing organisations to pose specific scientific challenge, from another hand it is difficult to formalize first, and then made available for the crowd, so making companies to demonstrate their weaknesses.


Crowdfunding is a special case of crowdsourcing that can be defined as a resource allowing a project initiator to obtain financing from Internet users. Crowdfunding is a relatively new method of financing that after successful realization in the sphere of cultural and social projects, is growing in strength in the financing of startup and local business projects. Social media play a vital role in the development of crowdfunding. Facebook, Twitter, specialized sites are key instruments for interaction about crowdfunding projects and encourage a transformation of social capital to financial capital. Social media sites allow to create content, share it, and discuss it without intermediaries as well. This kind of activity has a popularity that offers an easy-to-access place where the crowd may look at potential projects, a guarantee of seriousness in the processing of financial flow, occasional expertise in the ergonomics of project presentation (structure, formatting). Despite this, crowdfunding currently lies in a gray area of fiscal regulation. The market has great interest on it and investments are growing year by year.

        Number of ‘crowdinvesting’ campaigns expected by 2021


The emergence of social media and its emphasis on participative modes of use has many significant implications for society in general. Crowdsourcing is an example where such participation became a vital instrument that steadily proliferated across many areas and into a new context as new industries embrace. We are becoming an economy unto ourselves – a vast global network of specialized producers that swap and exchange services for entertainment, sustenance, and learning.  This may be the birth of a new era, perhaps even golden one, new economic democracy in which we all have a lead role.


  1. Axel Bruns, “Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond”, PetercLang, 2006
  2. Daren C. Brabham, “Crowdsourcing”, MIT Press, 2013. Available at:
  1. Don Tapscott and Antony D. Williams, “Wikinomics”, Atlantic Books, 2006
  2. Hinton & Hjorth, “Understanding social media”, SAGE, 2013
  3. James Surowiecki, “The wisdom of crowd”, Doubleday, 2004
  4. J-F. Lebraty, K. Lobre-Lebraty, “Crowdsourcing”, Wiley, 2013. available at:
  5. Mia Ridge, “Crowdsourcing our cultural heritage”, Ashgate, 2013
  6. Smartphone-based crowdsourcing for Network monitoring: Opportunities, challenges, and Case Study. A.Faggani, E.Gregori, L.Lenzini, V.Luconi, A.Vecchio, University of Pisa. available at:

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