A bunch of folks have sent in this silly opinion piece at Forbes, claiming that crowdsourcing is a myth
. The reasoning? Because there are individuals in the crowd. Except... um... did anyone say anything different? Of course there are individuals, and the point of crowdsourcing isn't that everyone in the crowd is equal, but that they each get to contribute their own special talents, and something better comes out of it. Every example that the guy dismisses as not crowdsourcing -- Wikipedia, the Netflix prize, open source developing, etc. -- actually does involve crowdsourcing. The problem is that this guy defines crowdsourcing in his own way -- that if any individual contributes a greater amount, there's no more crowd. Say what? The fact that a few determined individuals help craft a specific Wikipedia page, doesn't take away from the fact that it's the overall crowd that made Wikipedia so useful. It's many of those determined individuals together who made the entire Wikipedia so useful. He then goes on to mock the Netflix prize... even though it disproves his entire thesis
The Netflix contest is a prime example of individual virtuosity at work. One team was clearly in the lead and then a consortium of teams that had worse performance joined together and combined their innovations to create an algorithm that won the contest. For most of the contest, individuals toiled to figure out a solution. At the end, a consortium was formed. None of the invention happened through a crowd.
The problem -- yet again -- is that this guy (a consultant) seems to again be confused about the difference between invention and innovation. Yes, some individuals came up with different ideas. But what made the Netflix prize so interesting was that they weren't able to really achieve the necessary breakthrough until
they collaborated. That's what pushed them over the edge. That's what added that real value to take it to the necessary next step. A crowd is always made up of individuals. That different individuals contribute different parts doesn't change the value of crowdsourcing at all.