Nestled between Lonnie Stegink speaking about the Jewish Monument project and Roy Cremers explaining the crowdfunding of Voordekunst.nl, was Carl Esposti. Somewhere between culture and art, there is the business side of things.
As the founder of crowdsourcing.org, the CEO of Mass Solutions, and a partner at Everest Group, Carl Esposti is focused on working both private and public crowdsourcing into tools for businesses. He began to get interested in crowdsourcing after reading Jeff Howe’s Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business and wanted to understand the potential of this movement and its inevitable growth.
Using a multiplicity of people to generate ideas and solve problems is not a new phenomenon. Esposti traced crowdsourcing back to 1714 in England, when the government solicited, through the use of a monetary reward, a solution to navigational problems that sailors were having. In the end, it was a carpenter who found the best solution! Although crowdsourcing has a long history, the internet exponentially increased the ability to make more connections and lead to participation in different ways.
In Esposti’s definition of crowdsourcing, there has to be an element of production and a digital platform to participate in this production. The internet is a major element in crowdsourcing since it allows for the call out to highly distributed individuals. Interestingly, for him, the output of the production must be directed by a sponsor or by self-organized collaborations. He does not see projects like Linux, or other forms of peer generated production that does not have a directed output to be considered crowdsourcing.
In his talk, Esposti identified seven different applications of crowdsourcing, ranging from the arts and culture and non-profit sector to the business sector:
Civic Engagement - Collective actions that address issues of public concern
Crowdfunding - Financial contributions from online investors, sponsors, or donors to fund for-profit or non-profit initiatives or enterprises
Collective Creativity - Tapping creative talent pools to design and develop original art, media, or content
Collective Knowledge - Development of knowledge assets or information resources from a pool of distributed contributors
Community Building - Development of communities through active engagement of individuals who share common passions, beliefs, or interests
Tools - Applications, platforms and tools that support collaboration, communication, and sharing
Open Innovation - Using sources outside the entity or group to generate, develop, and implement ideas
There is obvious potential in crowdsourcing to push innovation through the passion of individuals. However, the questions at the end of Esposti’s talk stressed the difficulties inherent in the merging of art, culture, and business. With the current and looming government cuts to the art and culture industry in the Netherlands, is business the only place to turn? Although Esposti’s talk seemed slightly out of place due to his focus on business, perhaps it is the direction that we are heading. But if we are to move in this direction, lets not brush aside the critiques of crowdsourcing and the possibility of exploitation of individuals and creative sources.
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