Get 2 people in a room you get 2 ideas. Ask 100 people you get 100 ideas of which most of them can be narrowed down to a few common ways and showing a few clear winners. Or let’s say you need to lick 10,000 stamps. You can do it yourself (yum) or ask 10,000 friends to lick one stamp each. Using technology, companies such as Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk take your job and parse it out to dozens, hundreds or thousands of people. You get the work done for a fraction of the time it would normally take.
The Wall Street Journal writes:
Crowdsourced labor usually involves breaking a project into tiny component tasks and farming those tasks out to the general public by posting the requests on a website. Many firms that use crowdsourcing pay pennies per microtask to complete projects such as tagging or verifying data, digitizing handwritten forms and database entry. Dozens of services, such as Amazon.com Inc.’s Mechanical Turk and CrowdFlower, have cropped up in recent years to help companies cheaply crowdsource tasks.
Companies that have assigned work to the crowd say it is generally cheaper and faster than hiring temps or traditional outsourcing firms. Crowdsourced labor can cost companies less than half as much as typical outsourcing, says Panagiotis G. Ipeirotis, an associate professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, who studies crowdsourcing.