I’m here this week in Hollywood Florida to attend the 2011 TopCoder Open (TCO11).
TopCoder, Inc. is one of the pioneering companies in the Crowdsourcing movement. I’ve done a few introductory articles on Sys-Con Media about Crowdsourcing.
I, along with most people who are familiar with the term Crowdsourcing, vaguely equate it with things like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, where you pay nameless people a few pennies to do simple tasks. Essentially cheap outsourcing.
This has motivated me to write an article on Sys-Con Media, “Is Everything I Know about Crowdsourcing Wrong?”
Well, I was quite intrigued during a conversation with TopCoder, Inc. founder Jack Hughes to have him tell me that driving down the cost of development isn’t a very interesting problem. He continued to talk about how he personally dislikes the term “Crowdsourcing” – as it seems to be so inextricably linked to “cheap coding” in the minds of most people. According to him, harnessing the power of the crowd is something strategic – far more than just cutting costs.
Well, that’s why I’m down here at TCO11. There are some absolutely brilliant minds that I’ve had a chance to hear from and talk to – like Dr. Karim Lakhani, Professor at Harvard Business School who has authored some groundbreaking papers on innovation and Nick Donofrio, IBM Fellow Emeritus and EVP of Research and Innovation at IBM (retired) who is a truly remarkable champion of innovation in society.
The excitement on “the floor” where the competitions are being held is absolutely palpable. Crowds of people hanging around monitors watching the action as it unfolds. Some people excited and talking, others deep in concentration with furrowed brows. Huge urns of coffee and stacks of vitamin water are strategically located and let you know that this is not a competition for the weak.
I’ve already absorbed a lot. I’ve got stacks of reading to do as well. Back to the Open now.