Remember that TV show, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”? It was a game show where you answered a series of questions and were rewarded with various amounts of money until you reached and answered the million dollar question. Each time you chose to move on there was a risk of falling back to one of the major milestone amounts of you answered the question wrong. Wanting to be sure that you got every question correct (especially when the chance for loss of money was great) contestants would offen choose to use a life line. Options included phone a friend, 50/50, or ask the audience.
I find it interesting how the lifelines in Who Wants to be a Millionaire parallel real life. Like in the game show, “phone a friend” was often a parent, close friend or other loved one. Sometimes I try to figure it out myself by eliminating options myself and making the decision between what appear to be the two strongest options, “50/50”. The last option, “ask the audience”, did not seem to be very viable until the advent of social media sites like Twitter or Facebook. I suppose that you could “phone a friend” a bunch of times but who really has time for that?
Crowdcourcing, or tapping into Crowd Wisdom, is the act of reaching out to your online networked audience for the purpose of gaining additional insight on an issue before concluding your own decision on the matter. Issues can be as simple as asking for advice on a meal out or as complex as asking for medical advice. For the latter, let me explain.
Last week I fell victim to this years cold and flu season. I arrived home from work with no energy and all the classic symptoms of a cold. I sent out a cry for help to my social networks on Twitter and Facebook.
“Think that I am coming down with a cold. What’s your favorite home remedy for fighting a cold?”
The responses were immediate. They ranged from booze to multivitamins to rest. In the end I took a little of each person’s advice and took some NyQuil, rehydrated with Vitamin Water and went straight to bed for the next 24 hours or so.
I realize that these are all things that I could have “phoned a friend” or simply looked up on WebMD myself, but there is just something more powerful about asking “the network” that made me more confident that I was going to get better soon and that if not, a few hundred people had my back with other advice.
Have a crowdsourcing moment of your own? Think that I am crazy to seek medical advice of any kind online? Share your comments below.