Can you crowdsource Christmas?

December 23rd, 2010 by

microtask_crowdsourced_christmasOver the last twelve months there’s been a real buzz about crowdsourcing. 2010, the pundits predicated, would be the year crowdsourcing “went mainstream.”

Okay, I’m not quite sure how we judge what’s mainstream (stuff Simon Cowell’s heard of maybe?) but it’s certainly true that this year, the crowdsourcing industry has been more productive than a factory of Santa’s elves on Red Bull.

All of which means there are now a huge number of crowdsourcing projects out there, and with it being Christmas – season of miracles, mistletoe and dubiously themed blog posts – I thought it was time to answer that burning question: Is it possible to obtain all the essentials of festive merriment using only crowdsourced companies and products?

For those with IT professionals to buy for, look no further than a custom designed T-shirt from our friends at 99designs. If you’re cursed/blessed with more fashion-conscious friends, there’s now a host of crowdsourcing fashion sites, including FashionStake and (for fans of leopard print) Dream Heels. These projects give users the chance to vote for, fund and buy the latest designer creations.

If you blow your budget on T-shirts don’t worry, crowdsourcing can help out here too: Mechanical Turk offers payment in Amazon vouchers, which (seamless bit of linking) gives me the chance to recommend some of this year’s top crowdsourcing books.

Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirkey is a great book on the creative potential of human-computer interaction. In these heady days of Wikileaks, it’s easy to forget the wiki that started it all: Good Faith Collaboration is a brilliant reminder of the power and extraordinary achievements of Wikipedia – the original and best.

Although there have been several food companies crowdsourcing this year, none, as far as I know, have managed to genetically modify turkey or create a better plum pudding (fingers crossed for 2011). Instead, dedicated crowdsourcers will have to make do with Peperami for dinner (the snack’s parent company, Unilever, announced plans to crowdsource a trailer back in August). And for dessert, how about a box of “Monkey See Monkey Donuts”? These banana-filled, chocolate frosted creations were voted winner of Dunkin’ Donuts open, online, new-flavor competition. If nothing else, it will be a memorable Christmas dinner.

And to wash it all down? Pepsi certainly wins the award for effort. PepsiCo gave up advertising at the Super Bowl last year and, since then, the company’s been running Refresh Everything, a series of crowdsourcing competitions aimed at donating money to community projects.

Meanwhile, patriotically sticking to their stereotype as a nation of beer fanatics, an Australian company has crowdsourced the brown stuff. Brewtopia has designed an “open source”, crowd funded, crowd developed and generally crowd pleasing brew.

Best of the rest
Just scrolling through the Christmas entries on crowd funding site Kickstarter can provide hours of festive fun. Projects that have secured funding range from a holiday funk album ($15,000 raised) to a satirical, Oreo based, comedy video. Inexplicably though, the citizens of Chicago are yet to back a Klingon Christmas carol stage play.

All in all, it looks like there’s enough to keep crowdsourcing fans entertained (if not exactly well fed) this holiday season. So, here’s wishing you all a very merry, crowdsourced, little Christmas.