From GovExec.com: What Is Crowdsourcing?
A new IBM Center report, Using Crowdsourcing in Government, by Daren Brabham, University of Southern California, offers a nuanced understanding of just what is crowdsourcing and how government executives can use it to address specific types of public problems. Dr. Brabham says that an important distinction between crowdsourcing and other forms of online participation is that crowdsourcing “entails a mix of top-down, traditional, hierarchical process and a bottom-up, open process involving an online community.”
The growing interest in “engaging the crowd” to identify or develop innovative solutions to public problems has been inspired by wildly successful efforts in the commercial world to design innovative consumer products or solve complex scientific problems, ranging from custom-designed T-shirts to mapping genetic DNA strands. The Obama administration, as well as many state and local governments, have been adapting crowdsourcing techniques with some success.