Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Crowdsourcing in the Small

I've said many times that probably the biggest changes for concept workers over the past few years is the incredible access to information and more importantly the incredible access to people. In Networks and Communities, I discuss the limits of search and how Evaluating Performance of Concept Workers leads us to needing to derive Value from Social Media. And when I discuss what the new skills are around knowledge work, I quickly arrive a the biggest changes being things like finding expertise, finding answers, using social media to find answers, and learning through conversation.

The common threads here are:



To me, the biggest work literacy gap is in this area. The new skill is...
How do we leverage networks and other forms of social media to access the knowledge and capabilities of other people?
And I believe that the Tilde Effect is full force here. Just four days ago, someone posted a question in a LinkedIn discussion group asking for feedback on the use of particular tools. They didn't get a response in the discussion group and had not thought to do a search for people to contact directly. And this is for someone who was posting their question in LinkedIn. They were on the precipice of being able to access exactly what they needed and yet didn't have the awareness, knowledge and skills to be able to tap into that beautiful people network.

New Term Needed

So here's where I need some help. When I discuss this concept, some people say, "Oh you mean crowdsourcing." On Wikipedia, which is pretty indicative of other definitions, crowdsourcing is defined as -
Crowdsourcing is a neologism for the act of taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people or community in the form of an open call.
I have some issues with trying to apply this term to what I see happening.
  • "Crowd" - it implies large groups, often public, normally open
  • "Sourcing" - it implies that you are seeking resources for a business
Similarly, I generally don't like "Collective Intelligence" - that's the net effect, but not the individual action.

Instead, what I see happening is being done on smaller scales. It's individual concept workers reaching out to other people (known or not known), through networks or social media, to get help with their particular needs.

I've tried to come up with a good term for this. I've asked via Twitter for some help, but I still don't have something to call it. Some of the suggestions so far are:
  • PeopleSourcing
  • NetSourcing
  • PeerSourcing
  • PeopleNetKnowledge
Nothing has quite struck a chord with me. Certainly nothing as catchy as crowdsourcing.

Any suggestions?

P.S. - I'm doing X now. I'm reaching out to a network to get help. Maybe this is closer to crowdsourcing, but I think it's more X. And the fact that I've asked a few people and asked via Twitter suggests that I'm definitely doing X. What do you call it? Help!

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