Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Crowdsourcing: Ingenuity or pure laziness?

In #change11 we are being challenged to examine collective learning with a focus on how we learn. As one who comes from the business sector and not that of the academic sector, I can’t help but synthesis how this applies within my given context.

Many companies have turned to crowdsourcing in their research and development of products or services. I have seen numerous academics do likewise (although they have not called it “crowdsourcing”).

Crowdsourcing is defined by crowdsourcing.org as: “Crowdsourcing is sometimes otherwise referred to as Mass Collaboration, Open Innovation, Community Production, Mass Solutions, Constituent Driven Innovation, Connected Intelligence, Collective Wisdom, Intelligent networks and Human Networks. Crowdsourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to a large group of people or community (a crowd), through an open invite (call).”

I can’t help but to question if we - as corporations- are truly listening to the voices of the public (be it those of the employees of the corporation or the public at large) or are we merely being complacent and use crowdsourcing as a means of pacification- of giving the public a “feeling” that their voices are being heard?

Are we using the suggestions of the public?

Are we using crowdsourcing as a “solution” for cutting back our expenditures and thus cut back on our staff (be it consultants or others) and the human values that employees bring to our corporation?  

Are we trying to become everything to everyone and in the process lose sight of the foundations and the values upon which our corporations were built upon and their raison d’ĂȘtre?

Are we become data miners and stealers of innovations or are we truly becoming creative?

Is crowdsourcing yet another excuse for laziness (I don’t have to think/ be creative because someone else will think it/ design it for me)?

Sure, there are many great examples in the industry of cases where crowdsourcing is beneficial. But what seems to stand out in these positive attributions to crowdsourcing are:
  • Clearly defining who the “crowd” is.
  • Clearly defining and properly managing the derivatives of the crowdsourcing so they are incorporated, rejected, or used as a further springboard.
  • Recognizing the contributions.

My greatest personal concern is: what are the parameters of intellectual property when we participate in crowdsourcing? Do we as contributors (especially the public at large) give up our right or do the corporations automatically own it? Who gets the rights to the “next best-thing-next-to-sliced-bread”?


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Beginnings

I initially started a blog elsewhere but after much deliberation, I have decided to be more vigilant in concealing my identity in order to protect my family. I will follow-up later on this decision in a subsequent blog but for now, here is what I initially wrote on September 13, 2011...

Today is a day of beginnings…
  • I just completed my first synchronous meeting with my professor and peers for the new course at Athabasca University’s (AU) Distance Education program.
  • I began my journey at AU 10 years ago and after a long hiatus, I have decided to return to academia to complete what I started (inspired by a friend working on his MBA and by a mentor who has been bugging me to complete my studies!).
  • I am wrapping my head around reading academic papers rather than business reports.
  • Life-work balance now has a new partner; study-write.
  • I feel both nervous and excited at the student evaluation requirements- peer presentations, ongoing discussions with complete strangers (can introverts become extroverts when hidden behind computer?), and a major research paper.
  • I was disappointed that I would not have an opportunity to pursue an independent study as an elective course but I am now elated with the fact that this AU course is akin to one.
  • I am terrified that there can be so many people (hundreds!) in the same MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) that is the basis for the AU course.
Today is only a beginning. Tomorrow is another day; a day of change. Change is good!



I have created this blog with the express intention to share my ongoing experiences, observations, comments, and thoughtful ramblings as I participate in a unique seminar course as a Distance Education student at Athabasca University.