In the June issue of Wired Magazine there is (as usual) an interesting article about "crowdsourcing". The idea is, as one might think, a variation of outcourcing but is not focused on software development. The article mentions a number of companies and organizations that post their problems or tasks on the web, someone out there takes on the challenge or task, and if succesful gets a reward or payment. The model is used with tasks ranging from real research and scientific problems to tedious manual tasks. (Strangely enough there is nothing on Wikipedia on crowdsourcing yet)
The model is based on the same idea that we are now seeing happening in all fields touched by the web, to tap into the creativity and energy of the "crowd". This is the basic force behind Web 2.0, and all its successful manifestations. It leads to a huge, almost underground, ongoing creative activity that is soon to compete with many organized activities. We can already see this in music, media, news, entertainment, etc. Now we are seeing the same thing happening in "serious" fields like science, research, development, and business. Once again we are surprised by the dynamic forces that start to flow when communication between people is opened up, and when the creativity of the "masses" is made possible to express itself.