July 24, 2008

News & Opinion: Pockets of Knowledge

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 8:15 PM – Filed under: Innovation & Creativity

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to interview Jeff Howe on his book Crowdsourcing. We talked about what crowdsourcing is. Essentially, it means harnessing the power of an undefined crowd to do work.
One of the pieces that stuck out in Jeff's book is a quote from economist F.A. Hayek, from his 1945 piece, The Use of Knowledge in Society:
Each member of society can have only a small fraction of the knowledge possessed by all, and each is therefore ignorant of most of the facts on which the working of society rests...civilization rests on the fact that we all benefit from knowledge which we do not possess. And one of the ways in which civilization helps us to overcome that limitation on the extent of individual knowledge is by conquering ignorance, not by the acquisition of more knowledge, but by the utilization of knowledge which is and which remains widely dispersed among individuals.

Crowdsourcing brings together the scattered pockets of knowledge and everyone who is involved benefits. On the same day I interviewed Jeff, the NYTimes (perhaps they're psychic) posted an article about a company called InnoCentive, which also makes a regular appearance in Jeff's book.
InnoCentive is the embodiment of the civilization that Hayek talks about. It matches organizations together with innovators. The innovators are possible problem solvers for organizations like P&G and Eli Lilly (where the organization started). They come from around the world with diverse backgrounds and are rewarded if they find a solution. Amazing results when people come together.
Jeff posted more on the article over here. I'll post our podcast a bit closer to the book launch in late August.