Crowdsourcing; The World is your lobster (Terence)

Do you remember the TV series Minder? Of course you do; catchy theme tune “I could be so good for you” (no, not sweeney – that was “dah-na-naaa, dah-na-naaa…).  Minder was  Cheeky Dennis Waterman as Terry McCann and the great George Cole as Arthur Daley (that coat!). He imortalised that malapropism and it has stayed with me ever since.

But it resurfaced in my mind the other day as I got to talking about Crowdsourcing with some folks from who do this very well.

The term Crowdsourcing was coined by Jeff Howe, contributing editor to Wired Magazine and has been variously defined as:

1. “the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to an undefined, large group of people or community (a “crowd”), through an open call.” (Wikipedia)

2. “deceivingly open-armed design (“oh look, it’s a paper airplane icon! tee-hee!”), and the thin veil of “contests” to come across as a legit alternative to traditional business practices” (a designer).

Jeez.  I had no idea people could get so uptight about what appears to be free market forces creating an innovative and fast-growing sector that keeps some people in work and others buying more cost-effectively than ever before.  You can now crowdsource not just creative design but finance, websites, mobile apps and loads more.  Those it serves (and there are lots of them) love it and those it undermines are trying, unsuccessfully, to stamp it out.

I just don’t get it.  If Mercedes spent all their time trying to put Skoda out of business because they made really good cars for next to nothing, we’d get worse Mercedes-es and no Skodas. (what is the plural of Mercedes by the way?).

Having spent a good chunk of my working life in design and brand consultancy, often waxing lyrical about the sutbleties of “positioning” and “messaging” and how to “maximise engagement” it’s sort of refreshing to find that some people don’t want all that.  They just want a logo and can only afford a few hundred quid.

So let them have it if you ask me.  Most of the design proposals on crowdsourced contracts come from third world countries and most of them pay third world rates but the designs i’ve seen (well, most of them) are top notch, on brief and done in a flash.

So next time you need a brand or a website and your Armani-clad consultants are just a teensy bit over your budget give me a call and i’ll point you at one of the many and very successful online services doing a fine job where you’ll get 100 proposals to choose from and all in time for tea and for less than the price of a packet of digestives (almost).

Crowdsourcing works, it’s fair and for the users the world is very definately your lobster (Terence).


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