Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Crowdsourcing and Retirement

At present, there’s a reasonably clear separation between working and retirement. They are two distinct states, and generally speaking, one moves on from the working state to the retirement state.

Crowdsourcing will, I am convinced, change that. It will further blur the line. One effect of crowdsourcing in the future will be to serve as the perestroika, the restructuring, which will bring down the Berlin wall between working and retirement.

If there are as many crowdsourced projects and companies in the future as I imagine there will be, then one can ease into whatever degree of semi-retirement one is comfortable with. That’s been my thinking after I finished reading Jeff Howe’s book, Crowdsourcing. (highly recommended.)

Listed below are some bits from the book I jotted down as reminders for myself.
  • The best person to do a job is the one who most wants to do the job; and the best people to evaluate their performance are their friends and peers who, by the way, will enthusiastically pitch in to improve the final product, simply for the sheer pleasure of helping one another and creating something beautiful from which they all will benefit.
  • “No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.” Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems. […] Given the right set of conditions, the crowd will almost always outperform any number of employees – a fact that companies are becoming aware of and are increasingly attempting to exploit.
  • This diversely talented, highly skilled workforce must toil away in a labor market that requires ever-greater degree of specialization. This leaves people feeling overeducated and underfulfilled, with job satisfaction rates reaching all-time lows. Is it any wonder they’re seeking more meaningful work outside the confines of the workplace?
  • [On Opensource code] “The GNU GPL ‘converted’ software it was used with to its own license, an extraordinarily clever approach to propagating freedom,” notes Glyn Moody in his history of open source movement, Rebel Code. This little trick has come to be known as “copyleft” as opposed to copyright.
  • What makes open source so efficient? In the broadest of strokes, it’s the ability for a large number of people to contribute. The open source evangelist Eric S. Raymond famously summed up this fundamental truth when he wrote, that, “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow,” – which is to say that no problem is too thorny if enough people take a crack at it.
  • [On newspapers tapping into the community’s knowledge sharing through comments.] The [news]paper becomes merely the room in which the conversation takes place. Or to use Maness’s word for it, newspapers have entered the age of the ‘polylogue.’
  • [On The Billion, referring to the one billion people who have access to the internet.] “They may have between two and six billion spare hours among them, every day.” (Yochai Benkler.) The onus, then, isn’t on the crowd; it’s on companies, entrepreneurs, and anyone else with a good idea to figure out how to put that to work.

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