Wired magazine recently explored a newly named value-exchange phenomenon called “crowdsourcing.” It is a mixture of “the wisdom of crowds” and outsourcing. On the one hand, the business model requires a large, talented labor pool to tap into and on the other, the ability to foster a genuine, potentially long-term business relationship.
For instance, one company discussed is iStockPhoto which helps introduce free-lance photographers with savings-minded clients. The result is that photo’s which used to cost thousands of dollars to purchase from professional boutiques now cost less than $40. Why? As the article suggests, because the products the professionals once specialized in are simply not scarce.
While this seemingly new model was not designed from the top-down to replace inefficient patent-ridden industries, it has the side-effect of illustrating how firms could potentially profit off of innovations without the need for State intervention in the form of “intellectual property.”
In fact, arguably the need for building and maintaining relatively expensive research facilities to patent anything and everything diminishes when every Tom, Dick and Harry with a garage can get a piece of the action. Such is the case of InnoCentive, which matches companies such as Boeing and DuPont with independent outsiders for pennies on the dollar.
See also scriptlance and e-lance.
Thanks to DJC for the link.