Tuesday, April 15, 2008

We are smarter than the smartest among us

Collective wisdom, crowdsourcing, and a host of other terms are used to describe the notion of tackling complex problems using teamwork. Online tools enable large numbers of individuals to work on a common problem in an organized fashion. Wikipedia is certainly an example focused on creating a near-realtime encyclopedia. The OpenSource software movement is another good example.

My son and I participated in a project called GalaxyZoo, which helped professional astronomers do real science 'in record time' by engaging the passion of interested amateurs to catalog more than 1 million images of galaxies collected by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Telescope.

Businesses are making effective use of their customers and stakeholder's interest in designing better mousetraps. Dell Computer's Ideastorm, and Nokia's Beta Labs are two examples. These companies are sharing ideas and getting feedback from customers using 'rating tools' or by sharing technology--some of it developed by the participants themselves--in soft launch mode tied to a continuous feedback loop.

And then there is Google. Google announced and is revealing its plans for Android, an open source mobile computing platform. Unlike Apple's iPhone, the Android platform will enable users to make, deploy and run applications on Android-compatible handsets...no permission required from carriers or Google. Taking the idea of the anytime, anywhere network and placing it's power in the hands of the crowd.

For a quick rundown and a revealing chart on the Google-enabled mobile platform future, see Ars Technica article.

For a Homer Simpson perspective on what happens when average customers become product designers, see here

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