Crowdsourcing, a term first coined by Jeff Howe in a Wired magazine article in June 2006, describes the trend of leveraging the masses to do something that was traditionally done in-house by a business or outsourced to contractors. It’s a favourite if tired buzzword, still often used by journalists and writers when waxing lyrical on how businesses can take advantage of new Web 2.0 technologies to solicit ideas and opinions.
Crowdsourcing can be a tremendously useful way to engage a greater audience. Not only can they help you to define your product or service, in many cases it can even help you drive down business costs. The Wired magazine article gave a great example of how a museum chose to purchase stock photos taken by amateurs instead of going for ones taken by a professional, thereby saving hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
But it can also go horribly wrong.
Recently JTC Corporation ran a nationwide competition to name 10 new buildings in Fusionopolis, a site identified as Singapore’s key science, technology and media hub. Entries would be judged by a panel of six experts from education, media and other industries.
This is the shockingly poor result. A building called Connexis? Stylis? Symbiosis? If these were supposedly the best of the lot, either the judges were drugged out or the quality of entries had been disastrously poor. Ironic, considering all the innovation and creativity that is expected to ooze of out the high-tech hub.
It’s perfectly fine to solicit feedback from the public, and I’m all for competitions. The greater issue here is the impact on branding. These ten buildings are going to last many decades, and unfortunately now they’re saddled with names that are unpronounceable and meaningless to most Singaporeans.
My sympathies for the poor cabbies, and their passengers, headed for Fusionopolis.