Using the Power of Crowds to Solve Difficult Problems
The power of crowds is proving to be the partner of choice for innovation in recent years. Companies like Apple have tapped into the creativity and expertise of a large crowd to create apps and podcasts. Biologists at the University of Washington recently used the expertise of the crowd to map out the structure of the AIDS virus, a mystery that stumped experts for over 15 years. While crowds are increasingly being used for innovation in all sectors, only a handful of companies have harnessed their power and tapped into the power of the crowd to solve difficult problems.
A common problem that can arise during events that draw large crowds is that they are volatile and unpredictable. Although crowds generally follow predictable sociological patterns, their behaviors tend to be unpredictable. Generally, crowds are focused on a single event or activity. A 1904 study by Robert.E. Park revealed that people in a crowd are affected by collective stimuli and may be influenced by the same feeling even though they do not realize it.
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While crowds come in many forms, most people associate them with a particular action or event. A street or public crowd is a group of people with a common purpose and intent. A crowd can be active or passive, and they are often comprised of strangers. However, they are not necessarily the same as a group of people – they may be sitting on park benches or waiting for the bus. In some cases, a crowd may be an entirely different type of group – one that agitates for university reform.