A different type of crowdsourcing

In my research of Steve Song for the short paper, I was introduced to the idea of open source hardware. Many of us are familiar with open source software, which puts code into the hands of the public to play around with, make alterations, and possibly improve upon. Turns out the same concept can be applied to hardware, and can have a significant impact on development. By making hardware that can be taken apart and tinkered with, one can educate a population on how a technology works and allow for innovation and change to emerge. Consider an old PC vs. an iPhone. When we were young, some of the more curious and eager kids began taking apart the PC’s their family (hopefully) was not using anymore. They found out what was inside, learned what different parts did, and tried to put it back together. 5-10 years later, these kids are building their own computers from raw components and studying computer engineering. Now we look at the iPhone or a Macbook, a kid today could not open up these devices and decipher much if anything. They are sleek and efficient, but they offer no opportunity for innovation and learning.

Now we apply this idea to development. Put simple, understandable technologies into the hands of the public, and watch as the next generation yields tech innovators and entrepreneurs. Economic growth is derived from people’s ability to make things, and open source hardware enables this. I connect this concept to crowdsourcing because it distributes the task of innovation to the masses rather than a few telecom giants. In the long run, this type of crowdsourcing increases competition in the telecom industry and brings prices down to levels affordable to more people.

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