Crowdsourcing is a fascinating term coined Jeff Howe, journalist at Wired magazine, to describe the use of large groups of people working on a common task in bite sized chunks. His latest book, Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business, is a great overview and summary of the current trend and ideas on group problem solving and content generation.
Not everyone agrees with the concepts he raises that the group is more potent than the individual creator, but he does raise some interesting talking points around the open source programming model and content sites like iStockPhoto and YouTube. For me the most fascinating aspect of crowdsourcing and what it allows is that someone whom is a professional in one field of work, can lend his skills to another, which has long been recognized as a good way to innovate. Also the concept of people having other interests outside of their chosen career, that can be used and improved by adopting a crowd of interest, seems to fall nicely inline with modern thinking around people being passionate about things that are not necessarily done for money or profitable gain, but more for personal fulfillment and challenge.
Overall I think crowdsourcing has some very interesting concepts and the examples given in the book are very compelling, whether or not it can be replicated easily across different domains remains to be seen, but at the least I like the ideas of working as a group of passionate like minded individuals to solve bigger problems in smaller pieces. This book is a great introduction to the concepts and is an easy read to get upto speed on the current trend.