At this year’s Interior Design Show symposium, panelists will be discussing the controversial topic of Crowdsourcing.

Ah yes, crowdsourcing — a controversial topic indeed! So what is it? First termed by author Jeff Howe, crowdsourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee/contractor/designer, to an undefined, large group of people or community (a crowd), through an open call. So is it ever okay?

Well in the case of the Gap logo fiasco last October, designers far and wide collectively spoke up to say “No” to crowdsourcing. But what about open source applications and computer software? Is that considered crowdsourcing? Where do we draw the line between healthy community involvement and blatant speculative work? Definitely some food for thought, designers.

“On January 27, 2011 the IDS symposium will challenge its audience to think outside the box, and ultimately illuminate and inspire on the provocative subject of Crowdsourcing Creativity and Community. Is crowdsourcing—better known as “tapping talent from the crowd” — helping or hindering creativity? How are crowdsourcing and open source contributing to design for social change? These are just a few of the issues and questions that will be debated by 10 international thinkers who will share their practical experiences with crowdsourcing and open source design as it relates to humanitarian projects and commercial design.” (conversationsindesign.com)

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