Crowdsourcing, also known as crowdfunding, is a noteworthy development that has tremendously helped the growth of collaborative software ventures. Unlike traditional fund raising campaigns, crowdsourcing utilizes the vast networking capabilities of the internet to find perfectly matched individual donors for projects. The donors do not necessarily receive individual credit or have a greater share of influence over the direction of the project; instead, the focus is on the project itself, and the benefits of its outcome. There are a significant number of websites dedicated to fostering crowdsourcing, with an encouraging rate of success.
CollaborationKing.com has a section devoted to following collaborative software and project-based efforts, with an emphasis on crowdsourcing projects. The categories are divided into visual projects, software projects, creative projects, and groups that are focused on raising money first and applying it to worthy projects later. CollaborationKing also monitors sites that specialize in matching qualified freelance workers to temporary assignments from a number of different companies, such as oDesk.
Some websites, such as www.kickstarter.com, utilize crowdsourcing to fund projects that are generally creative in nature, such as films or art-related projects. The website describes the projects with a descriptive blurb, shows a goal amount, and lists how far along the project is in raising money toward that goal. On a recent visit, most of the projects on the front page of the website had either met or exceeded their fundraising goals.
What is particularly heartening about the development and subsequent applications of crowdsourcing is how effectively the process utilizes everyone’s energy and time. Money pledged goes directly to a named project which is both traceable and transparent in its goals. Contributors understand what they investing in. In most cases, crowdsourcing is less about producing profit than producing a tangible service or product. In the case of services that match freelancers to one-off assignments, crowdsourcing enables work to be completed in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. Freelancers can focus on refining their skills, while companies can focus on identifying and meeting their specific needs.
Older, top-heavy models of employment and investment infrastructure — whereby a panel of executives made decisions about their company designed primarily to drive up short-term profits without necessarily creating or investing in longer-term productivity — are increasingly being replaced with a more collaborative outlook. Crowdsourcing is highly democratic, highly adaptable, and most importantly, open to interacting with other organizations or ideas that share the same goals. Instead of prizing profit as the ultimate motive, crowdsourcing prizes actual accomplishment. Because of this focus, crowdsourcing has helped produce to a fleet of start-up ventures around the globe with projects that often end up collaborating with one another. Although crowdsourcing is still in its infancy, the future looks promising.