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Crowdsourcing Lessons from Henry Ford Panos Ipeirotis Associate Professor, Information Systems Stern School of Business, New York University Blog: “A Computer.

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Presentation on theme: "Crowdsourcing Lessons from Henry Ford Panos Ipeirotis Associate Professor, Information Systems Stern School of Business, New York University Blog: “A Computer."— Presentation transcript:

1 Crowdsourcing Lessons from Henry Ford Panos Ipeirotis Associate Professor, Information Systems Stern School of Business, New York University Blog: “A Computer Scientist in a Business School”

2 Crowdsourcing: First Steps Maskelyne, 1760: – Used large number of human computers. – Created almanac with moon positions, used for ship navigation – Quality assurance by doing calculations twice and compared by third verifier. De Prony, 1794: – Hires hairdressers (unemployed after French revolution) who knew only addition and subtraction) – Create logarithmic and trigonometric tables. – He managed the process by splitting the work into very detailed workflows. – Hairdressers better than mathematicians in arithmetic! – Galton, biology, 1893 – Pearson, biology, 1899 – … – Cowles, stock market, 1929 – Math Tables Project, unskilled labor, 1938

3 Crowdsourcing: First Steps Maskelyne, 1760: – Used large number of human computers. – Created almanac with moon positions, used for ship navigation – Quality assurance by doing calculations twice and compared by third verifier. De Prony, 1794: – Hires hairdressers (unemployed after French revolution) who knew only addition and subtraction) – Create logarithmic and trigonometric tables. – He managed the process by splitting the work into very detailed workflows. – Hairdressers better than mathematicians in arithmetic! – Galton, biology, 1893 – Pearson, biology, 1899 – … – Cowles, stock market, 1929 – Math Tables Project, unskilled labor, 1938 (Little has changed since then…) Patterns Division of labor Mass production Remind you of something?

4 Meanwhile… The Industrial Revolution Textile manufacture Mining Steam power Chemicals …

5 The Industrial Revolution: 19 th Century Productivity rises! But who is the beneficiary? (hint: child labor, tenements, cholera, chest diseases, hunger, malnutrition…)

6 A class of laborers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labor increases capital. … These laborers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market. …. Owing to the extensive use of machinery, and to the division of labor, the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character, and, consequently, all charm for the workman. … He becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most simple, most monotonous, and most easily acquired knack, that is required of him. "The Communist Manifesto", by Marx and Engels, 1848

7 A class of laborers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labor increases capital. … These laborers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market. …. Owing to the extensive use of machinery, and to the division of labor, the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character, and, consequently, all charm for the workman. … He becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most simple, most monotonous, and most easily acquired knack, that is required of him. "The Communist Manifesto", by Marx and Engels, 1848 Remind you of something?

8 The assembly line and mass production Mass production was popularized in the 1910s and 1920s by Henry Ford, who introduced electric motors to the then-well-known technique of chain or sequential production. Standard of living started increasing after introduction of mass production

9 The Ford Innovation: The $5 workday Before Ford: many departments hired 300 men per year to fill 100 slots. Ford, in 1914, offered a $5/day wage ($110 in 2008 dollars) doubling running wage Best mechanics in Detroit flocked to Ford: – Brought expertise – Raised productivity – Lowered training costs Efficiency meant hiring and keeping the best workers

10 Fast forward to 2011… Crowdsourcing: The assembly line for knowledge work Cost benefits: “It is cheap, and I help these poor guys” [said the robber baron of the 19 th century, together with the modern MTurk requester] Speed and parallelism: “I got 1000 workers to work on this task” [out of which, 1% workers did 99% of the work, the rest left, generating turnover of 3000%] Breaking down to simple tasks: “Now we give tiny, meaningless tasks to people” [who get bored to death]

11 Crowdsourcing in 2011 We are still in the 19 th century! We repeat all the mistakes! We need a Henry Ford!

12 CrowdSearching It is not about the cost! It is not about the crowd! It is not about simple tasks! Crowdsourcing best for “parallel, scalable, automatic interviews” and for finding quickly good workers Find the best trained workers, fast, pay them well, and keep them!


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