Crowdsourcing is a powerful way to marshal small contributions from large numbers of people to solve real-world problems. Success stories range from classifying craters on Mars' surface (ClickWorker) to labeling images (the ESP Game, now Google Image Labeler) to task marketplaces (Amazon's Mechanical Turk). This project moves towards a vision of crowdsourcing that extends it to support complex, creative, and interdependent tasks, and embeds it into computing systems as part of our everyday lives. The project will focus on two application areas for complex crowdsourcing: science journalism and software development.
The intellectual merits of the project include the uncovering of new scientific knowledge about how to model online crowd behavior, and the development of new methods and tools for using crowds as part of computer system designs, particularly for complex, interdependent, real time work. The project will also show that these methods can be used for real-world problems.
The potential broader impacts include those specifically having to do with the two application areas, which could have significant impacts on society. Crowdsourcing science journalism will directly involve citizens in the process of science dissemination, making scientific information more accessible to the general public, and promoting greater awareness of science and the scientific process. Crowdsourcing software development can transform the way that software is created, lowering barriers and broadening participation in open source software development, and helping larger masses of people use and improve their programming skills. Other impacts will flow from the researchers' plans to publically share the infrastructure that they develop to facilitate complex crowdsourcing in many other areas. They also plan to integrate their research results into undergraduate courses.