All businesses should use crowdsourcing

Over  time I’ve become really impressed by the “wisdom of crowds” but even more so how much crowds seek to accomplish something by sharing work and knowledge over the net. So businesses that don’t take advantage of this are really stupid and missing out on a ton of free engineering.

The first victim on my scorn on this is Delorme. I’ve been using their electronic maps and GPSr since their very first version. And for a while I attempted to feed them corrections to their map data. And they ignored it. And as far as I can tell from comments they ignore all customers’ input. This is really stupid since: a) customers are actually out on roads and are collecting real data, and, b) many customers are seriously knowledgeable and capable and are willing to contribute, for free, their inputs. OTOH, for instance, Google, focused on the idea of “big data” is very oriented to collecting every shred of data they can get. Google, unlike, Delorme, seems to know how to use vast amounts of data to discard noise and extract real value. But it’s also attitude. I’m sure the cartographers at Delorme think they’re elite and customers are a bunch of idiots who couldn’t possible contribute anything useful and/or would probably lie and just be messing up the data being juvenile vandals.

The second victim, and far more recent, of my scorn is BodyMedia. I’ve been using their sensor and software for seven weeks now and found it to be sadly lacking, certainly not matching all their claims. But I’m willing to believe (on faith, since no evidence) that the sensor is recording more than just footsteps so I believe they simply don’t know how to model human bodies doing certain types of exercise. So I believe they should: a) make the raw data available (after all, I did pay for their device and it’s “my” data, so why can’t I see it), and, b) they should publish their algorithms. You see, folks, some of us actually have some expertise (and motivation to improve) things like this. I believe I could suggest numerous improvements to their algorithms. Now the Open Source people get this and there is some impressive (as well as some junk) software out there. So why doesn’t BodyMedia let their customer base do some of the invention. I suspect it’s: a) ignorance by the marketing crowd of the power of crowdsourcing, plus their arrogance, and, b) hostility by their technical people that customers might actually have better ideas than they do, so they’re just doing CYA.

So, top managers, don’t let the territorial interests of your staff interfere with getting the best (and free) engineering you can – Open really works, so you should use it.



About dmill96

old fat (but now getting trim and fit) guy, who used to create software in Silicon Valley (almost before it was called that), who used to go backpacking and bicycling and cross-country skiing and now geodashes, drives AWD in Wyoming, takes pictures, and writes long blog posts and does xizquvjyk.
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