It was predictable. With more people on social media channels like Twitter or Facebook than I´d care to feed, sooner or later those networks had to be tapped in to. After the spread of silly adds, desperate people trying to boost traffic to a usually ridiculously bad website, or smartasses phishing around for logins and passwords, crowdsourcing seems to be the next big thing.
The principle is geniously simple: you ask those in your network to help you out with advice, or by answering a specific question. Tap into the collective intelligence of your hang-arounds and you by-pass expensive third party vendors, and Rolex-ed market analyzing consultants. People who are well connected can easily datamine a couple of hundreds, even thousands followers or Facebook friends. Cheap, easy, fast. Then, it´s just a question of a bit of common sense and some good analyzing software to turn this data into charts, insights, trend previews and shiny statistics.
People as Marian Salzman, Martha Stewart, Don Tapscott and many others have found clever ways of using Twitter as a spider web for collecting data. And that is a good thing.
I do have some future looking concerns though. People are genuinely so happy to help out in these online communities that they answer to calls for help and info often. Too often. Over the last week I´ve been asked my opinion on healthcare, millennials, blogging, the situation in Israel, baby food, tracking software for photographing stellar constellations and the ideal coach for the Belgian national soccer team. On 4 of these items I do have insufficient knowledge, insight, or authority to add anything useful to the conversation. Still I was asked, and I did answer.
I´ve seen outcome of crowdsourcing – based analyses that was dead wrong, because the question was shot at a wrong but very enthusiast audience. You catch my drift: to gather great insights on most topics, laser profiling your focus group is very important. Crowdsourcing is testing the water with your toe. For indepth analyzing, the ability to narrowcast down to selected audiences will differentiate data butchers from data surgeons…