Jul 18, 2009

Crowdsourcing Backlash?

I love the idea of crowdsourcing. It's so exciting to see all the great sites popping up enabling crowdsourcing. Heck, Best Buy is actually crowdsourcing the job description for the Emerging Media specialist because they took some heat from folks based on their initial job description. At first I thought it was a bit overkill, but when I read through the idea and the crowdsourced submissions, it made alot of sense. So, of course in my mind, crowdsourcing is a great idea but I've been wondering what the potential backlash could be. Particularly if crowdsourcing really becomes the next wave of the future. Here are a couple potential negative outcomes I forsee...

1. People stop being able to make their own decision about things, even small things. At this point we are all so connected with our digital devices and I wonder if young kids who can easily ask their friends for their opinion via these devices will not learn how to make decisions on their own. I may be taking this to the extreme, but I'm talking in years to come. Not tomorrow.

2. People get frustrated with crowdsourcing overkill because businesses rely so heavily on the crowd to make decisions that people start to wonder 'why am I paying you for this' or 'why isn't the price going down if I'm the one participating in giving you all this direction'.

I still love the idea of crowdsourcing. I was wondering this morning if you could crowdsource a movie script or a TV pilot. TV in particular is so marginal these days (sidebar: Big Brother is in it's 11th season? WTF?!) they might actually develop something entertaining if they leverage their viewers to help shape the concept and the scripts. I just hope that businesses approach crowdsourcing judiciously -- I could see us reach the tipping point rather quickly if everyone jumps onto the crowdsourcing bandwagon and begins to use it for every dingdongdecision that they need. Knowing big business brands, this is what I anticipate - "how many 'plys' should we have on our toilet paper"; "what food should we serve next at our fast food chain"; "how late should we stay open", etc. There are wonderful benefits to crowdsourcing; particularly as it relates to creating a dialog with the group you are trying to serve, I just hope we don't overdo it and here in America, we are the land of overindulgent overdoing.