Crowdsourcing and the “Discourse Network 2000”

Epigraph[1]

“Where the author was once presumed to be the originating transmitter of a discourse next sent for management to the editor, publisher, and so on through all the other positions in the discursive circuit, now the author is in a mediating position as just one among all those other managers looking upstream to previous originating transmitters—database or XML schema designers, software designers, and even clerical information works (who input data into the database or XML source document).” (Liu 81)

A (very brief) history of the term “crowdsourcing”

In his 2004 article in Critical Inquiry titled “Transcendental Data: Toward a Cultural History and Aesthetics of the New Encoded Discourse,” Alan Liu describes today’s digital information culture through the concept of “discourse network 2000,” a way of organizing information production and dissemination which has the potential to disempower readers and writers by prescripting their roles within an overly-articulated management-focused framework. Fast-forward one year and Wired writer Jeff Howe coins the term “crowdsourcing” to refer to:

the act of a company or institution taking a function once performed by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined (and generally large) network of people in the form of an open call.[2]

Mauerspechte at the Berlin Wall

I guess it isn’t crowdsourcing if the crowd takes it upon themselves. (Image via Jochims/Wikimedia Commons)

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