From the Editor

By Matt Evans
November/December 2014

Crowdsourcing for Good

First coined in 2005 in Wired Magazine, the term crowdsourcing began its life as a way of explaining the online practice of a company or institution having a network of people accomplish a task that before was undertaken by a sole individual. It has since morphed into a much broader term that describes how we can accomplish larger, more complex projects and come out with higher quality when we "outsource" to a crowd of resources rather than try to do it all ourselves.

The concept seems so simple and logical that it's almost taken for granted that this is the way current and future problems should be dealt with, both personal and professional. Yet when we break it down into its component parts, the reality becomes a little more challenging than it seems.

In order to begin crowdsourcing, we must first admit that we have a problem that is more than we can handle on our own. So, our pride must be removed from the process and we must be willing to reach out and ask for help. Secondly, we must be able to synthesize what we get back and choose wisely between the "good" and the "not-so-good" information or result that returns. On the flip side, as someone who contributes to the crowdsourced project, we need to be satisfied with contributing a portion of the final solution and be willing to give up the "pride of ownership" of having completed the entire thing on our own. 

Interestingly, this goes against the grain of the American ethos of the rugged individualist who takes care of everything on his/her own, or the superhero who swoops in to save the day singlehandedly. And yet, the logic of crowdsourcing is undeniable and its foundations have been applied in business, fundraising, education, and innovation throughout the country. So, as our worlds continue to expand through instantaneous news, social media, and a video camera on every cell phone, we need to apply the principles of crowdsourcing in order to remain effective, and to keep ourselves sane.

So what does that mean to an average person with average means and a busy life? It means we need to ask for help and be willing to give aid in whatever capacity that we can, even if we can't fix the entire problem. Just as Jesus pointed out in the story of the Good Samaritan, we have to be willing to stick our neck out there and help people, sometimes people that look and act quite a bit different than ourselves. And maybe just as important, that good samaritan didn't hang around to collect the glory or a reward, he just paid the 2 dinari bill and went on his way, content with simply doing his part.

In a 2011 Ted Talk, volunteer firefighter Mark Bezos reminds us that even though he didn’t get to run into the burning building and save someone’s child, he did go into a charred mess and find a pair of shoes for the homeowner to wear the night of her worst nightmare. And, when she sent her letter of thanks to the fire department, she highlighted that act of kindness as being extra special to her that night. He reminds us of the real truism, no matter how small our contribution, what we do matters.

Each year as we put together our annual November/December issue dedicated to serving others, I am amazed at the amount of great ideas and energy that people put towards using their outdoor passions to help people. Although certainly overwhelmed by the bad in the world and the monumental task of combatting some of these gargantual problems, I am inspired by the outdoor enthusiasts who just keep swimming, climbing, riding, running, fundraising, and working towards a solution. Whether big mountain or small, the only way to the top is with one more step up. 

Crowdsourcing for good really is all about pitching in, however much and however long that we can. Although we all want to be that hero that swoops in and saves the day, we shouldn't wait around for that golden opportunity. We should get in there and have faith that God will take our humble contribution and grow it exponentially. To coin a phrase much older than crowdsourcing, Together Everyone Accomplishes More: old and hoky, but still oh so true.

Pursue, Explore, Celebrate,







About the Author

  • Matt_Evans's picture

    Matt Evans is a contributing editor for Shout! Outdoor Lifestyle Magazine. Matt loves to explore God's great outdoors and discover how God reveals himself in the majesty of His creation. He lives out his adventure in Alaska with his wife and three children. 

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