7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Insightful if one sided review of global network phenomena,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Crowdsourcing: How the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business (Hardcover)Wired Magazine established itself early as the journal of the Digirati, and contributing editor Jeff Howe builds on his seminal 2006 article to produce a book which, in many ways, is a summary of the magazine's manifesto. His thesis is that the informal, intelligent networks which have grown up among knowledge workers and other internetters provide a powerful and effective model of doing things better in the new world.
At its heart, Crowdsourcing is about the way that a very large number of amateurs, all working in small ways on part of a problem, can produce better solutions, faster, than dedicated teams of experts. He points to this in the areas of science, engineering, culture and journalism, with numerous examples including Digg, iStock, and Amazon reviews like this one. Howe's argument is that, although this is enabled by the internet, it is not a purely internet phenomenon. He points to early examples, such as the longitude competition and the Royal Society. However, it's fair to say that 99% of what Howe has to say is about things that happen at least partly online.
This book has a great first chapter (largely based on the original article), and a very good final chapter, with ten key principles for harnessing crowdsourcing (or group intelligence, if you prefer the term) in the real world. Most of the stuff in the chapters between, though, is illustrative, and could be deduced from the beginning or from the end.
And herein is the book's great weakness. Howe's fundamental thesis is logical and compelling, but his 'proof by example' begs the question of all the counter-examples that he is not mentioning. Hacker-networks, harnessing 'zombie-computers' to send out terabytes of spam, are intrinsically as much an example of dark crowdsourcing as some of the positive examples Howe highlights. However, throughout, he never mentions the dark side, and presents crowdsourcing as a purely positive thing. This does not detract from Howe's underlying point, but it does mean that this is a book is at best a one-sided affair.
The other issue I have with Crowdsourcing is Howe's suggestion that it can function just as well off-line as on-line. This may well be true, but almost all of his examples are from the online world, and he does not explain how crowdsourcing might work in the modern world without an effectively instant and free network to support it.
Nonetheless, this is an important book, and, if you missed the original article, presents a key stage in the history of today's ideas.
(4 customer reviews)
Used & New from: £0.01