Crowd-Sourcing Will Go Mainstream

A few days ago, I finished reading “Game Change” which is John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s controversial account of the 2008 U.S. presidential race. This book has become fairly popular amongst political junkies of all stripes (it’s been on The New York Times bestseller list since its publication and The Huffington Post lamented how difficult it was to find a copy when it first came out).

Frankly, the authors seem most concerned with revealing the alleged – but certainly provocative – thoughts and statements of the different candidates’ inner circles, but I enjoyed the tome for the implicit argument that “crowd-raising” and “crowd-sourcing” have fundamentally changed the way our society functions.

Not every supporter of Barack Obama in the 2008 election could give $2,000 at once, but millions of people gave $20 multiple times. Linked together, over a period of time, small donations had a massive impact. This pooling example provides insight into how capital and knowledge can be similarly harnessed to create powerful change in other areas. Specifically, if tools existed to link people with spare time and suitable skills to projects that benefit from their contribution, society and business may be able to cumulatively make advancements using resources we already have.

Americans, in particular, are busy. However, even in the most hectic of days, there are free moments found in blocks of just a few minutes. Aggregated, this spare time can have enormous social or commercial impact. Sitting in an airport (like I am right now), waiting in a doctor’s office, riding the subway, etc., are all opportunities for harnessing the “crowd.”

I’ve come across a number of interesting companies developing different types of models in this space so drop me an email if you want to discuss this sector further. Some of the great ideas include models to help struggling bands record their first albums as well as new product development forums that allow contributors to participate in the financial upside. The revenue models for nearly all of this field still need to be proven, but it’s an exciting sector to follow nonetheless.