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Friday, 22 August 2014

Crowdsourcing and Crowdfunding: A New Form of Social Exploitation


As a newly used term, Crowdsourcing is a social practice which involves seeking out a general category of services, content and ideas which involves soliciting various forms of contributions that does not regularly involve money in certain aspects, from a large number of people which evolve within an on-line community. This new form of obtaining anything from funds, information, ideas and even skilled services is a method of dividing a substantial amount of work that is broken down to smaller jobs that is focused on achieving the primary factor of attaining a specific goal. The working dynamics of Crowdsourcing involves part-time workers, whether they be paid or not, in which they are given specific jobs to which they are capable to accomplish in regards to their skills.

Another segment that evolved from this principle was “Outsourcing” in which organizations such as private individuals and companies seek the employment of workers in a global scale, with appropriate skills. This enables companies and employers to find people to work for them whom they know have the capabilities of getting the job done for a far more lower rate of pay than employing workers with the same set of skills which require a higher standard of pay.

This favors companies that run businesses as they can choose from among job candidates who are more adept with the skills needed by a company in achieving their goals. The word “Crowdsourcing” was first used way back in 2006, as it implied to finding specific solutions to specific problems that were currently being tackled by many people who are regular members of on-line communities. A certain problem was usually put out in the form of forums that will be discussed on a regular basis until such till such time that there will be someone who will bring up a plausible solution to the problem. Often times, problems that involve many aspects of social networking communities such as technology or simple everyday problems would be brought up, and solutions will be discussed. Rating answers to the problems that were posed and the most rational and effective answers were usually given credit in solving the problem.

Companies and individuals who started Crowdsourcing sites were very aware of the potential of social networking communities in regards to finding answers to questions as there is an abundance of people all over the world who were more that willing to contribute freely to the Internet community. Crowdsourcing companies found answers and subsequently found the right people who knew what they were talking about that they decided to capitalize of the power of information from people all over the world. This was the start of the Outsourcing movement that has used the Internet as a medium of employing people who had the right skills to accomplish most tasks that were a problem to most people.

Outsourcing began to change the way on-line employment was evolving as more and more employers have started to look for other sources of manpower at a more affordable rate of pay. Most jobs that are outsourced through the Internet are that of accountants, writers, graphic designers, virtual assistants, inbound and outbound information specialists, audio transcriptionists, video editors and on-line English teachers.

On-line job networks are one of the proponents of outsourcing labor from all parts of the world. One particular on-line job network like O-Desk, goes by a method of that similar to a bartering system in which makes on-line job seekers “fight” each other in terms of offering the most lowest acceptable rate of payment for the job offers presented by employers. Although it seems like a very degrading way of trying to win the favor of potential employers, it is no doubt a very effective way in getting a highly skilled individual to work for an employer on the most ridiculous rate that is almost comparable to nothing! Most companies that outsource their manpower through the Internet employ workers from South Africa, South East Asia, India and Pakistan and most third world countries that are below the minimum international standards of living.

Crowd Funding:

Crowdfunding is a method of securing needed funds for your specific use for your projects,ergo, putting a proposal forward and presenting them to a group of people or private organizations that might be interested in the concept of your project. The goal of Crowdfunding is to acquire financial assistance through donations, however, there is a present dilemma for Crowdfunding in the United States as there are now proposals coming from the Securities and Exchange Commission to regulate the entire process of Crowdfunding. Advocates of Crowdfunding insist that the process of Crowdfunding could be used for fraudulent interests and that it should be tightly monitored as not to used for malicious intent. However, according to those who support Crowdfunding, it was just a simple way on how the United States government was bend on getting it's hands on the money that was available that was floating around the Internet that they had no way of regulating.

One of the best known Crowdsourcing websites is Kickstarter, which was one of the first websites that advocated fund raising for creative projects. During the course of it's existence, it was able to raise well over $100 million dollars. Kickstarter however was very specific in terms of it's policy regarding their regulations such as it's requirements were that in order to acquire the money you needed, you have to make sure that you reach the required amount that you have stated as falling short will mean that you will not be able to avail any amount that was contributed to your proposed project. Other source of Crowdfunding come in the form of organizationally sponsored contests which are often based on conceptualized ideas and to see who will be able to put those concepts on a practical working scale.

There had been issues that are implicated in Crowdsourcing and Crowdfunding in regards to who really gets the most advantage in this type of social adherence. There also seems to be an exploitive side to it as information gathering is involved which makes use of people as data bases which does not cost anything in regards to information retrieval. The power of information can work either for society's advantage or it can even be used against society as a matter of influencing public opinion.
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