Crowdsourcing and User Generated Content

Crowdsourcing has been changing methods of labor on the internet in one very particular and drastic way. It unites many people to contribute their knowledge and expertise towards a specific topic and as a result this lowers the cost of most services and goods. Certain companies are responsible for essentially taking “advantage of the networked world” and obtaining significant profits from it. The article “The Rise of Crowdsourcing” by Jeff Howe accurately depicts what crowdsourcing is and the effects it has on freelance and independent contractors. Harmel and his services essentially became obsolete after the creation and success of websites such as iStockphoto, Shutterstock, and Dreamstime. The effect of crowdsourcing was to such an overwhelming degree that it “had undercut Harmel by more than 99 percent”. This also reminded people like Harmel that their products are “no longer scarce” and don’t command the prices they once did. At the same time, crowdsourcing caused a change in the economy which allowed for people with a hobby or deep interest in something to make a meaningful contribution despite them not being the conventional corporate or government employee. This can be seen particularly in the case of Ed Melcarek and his contributions to “working on science problems for corporations” such as InnoCentive. However, these contributions by well versed and perhaps by people who share a passion for a hobby, blurs the lines between amateurs and professionals. Ultimately despite amateurs being able to contribute; they don’t have the legal and academic qualifications which professionals do.

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