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IEET > Life > Vision > Affiliate Scholar > Melanie Swan

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Crowd Models Become Pervasive Across Society


Melanie Swan
Melanie Swan
Ethical Technology

Posted: Nov 26, 2012

Crowd-based models are becoming so pervasive that almost no major segment of modern life is left untouched by them. The concept of digital crowd models refers to the coordination of large numbers of individuals (the crowd) through an open call on the Internet in the conduct of some sort of activity.

Not only are crowd models an efficient at-scale alternative to former methods that the Internet now affords, but at another level, crowd models are also a node of progress for humanity, both individually and en masse. An inherent property of crowd models is greater autonomy, decision-making, and action-taking by the individual. This means greater individual agency whilst simultaneously enabling group collaboration projects at previously unimaginable scales, for example, possibly ultimately coordinating and employing the cognitive power of millions of human agents.  

Crowd Models by Sector
  • In economics, there are crowdsourced labor marketplaces where simple tasks and professional services requests can be posted and fulfilled, crowdfunding websites for financing projects, and group purchasing mechanisms. 
  • In politics, crowd models mean the use of big data and social media to organize opinion and action, conduct direct marketing, and affect change. 
  • In the social venue, blogs, social networks, and online dating sites are examples of crowd models. 
  • In entertainment, there are massively multiplayer online games and virtual worlds. In education, vast eLearning networks are populating the landscape. 
  • In health, there are health social networks, digital health collaboration and experimentation communities, crowdscience competitions, and new movements such as the quantified self. 
  • In the legal venue, digital public goods have arisen through crowd contributions such as the Wikipedia, online health databanks, and other data commons resources.

Melanie Swan, MBA, principal of the MS Futures Group, is an Affiliate Scholar of the IEET. Ms. Swan is a science generalist, hedge fund manager, and founder of citizen science organization DIYgenomics.
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