Friday, September 04, 2009

If you can crowd source developing a car, what can't you crowd source?

Fiat in Brazil is currently crowd sourcing the development of an concept car for 2010, the Fiat Mio.

The concept is that the public (from anywhere in the world) can submit ideas for what they'd like to see in a car, these ideas can be voted and commented on by others and Fiat engineers will draw from these ideas when developing the concept car.

The site uses a translation tool to allow ideas to be translated into any of five languages with a click of a button, making it truly international in scope.

Already there have been thousands of ideas submitted and voted on and there's a very active discussion of the car on Twitter (largely in Spanish).

To top it off, the project is being developed under a Creative Commons license - making the ideas reusable by other car makers.
Please remember that all content will be free. Fiat believes that the information generated in this project should be shared without restrictions for use by simple users or engineers and manufacturers, and other vehicle manufacturers.
If an organisation such as a car maker, in a highly competitive and complex industry, is able to crowd source the development of a concept car, one of the most complicated machines used by man, think of the possibilities for crowd sourcing government initiatives, programs and policies.


  1. There is a grand leap from crowd-sourcing creative ideas to actually choosing the features (ie. designing) that have to satisfy contradictory objectives (eg. speed vs comfort, min vs max gov't). The former is certainly inviting. But the latter ultimately requires politicking. I know I keep harping on it, but crowd-sourcing is poor for synthesising options, because it leaves you with a mess of individual submissions, which still have to be put together even though they may be incompatible with each other. This is what a deliberative process can address, after the crowd-sourcing and ranking of disparate ideas.

  2. @rlubensky , interesting remark, however if you were right, Linux, which is a prominent example of crowdsourcing, was never developed. They evidently succeeded in synthesising the options and developing a working product. Crowdsourcing is in my view not only collecting,ranking and scoring individual submissions but also the deliberative process you mention.

  3. rlubensky,

    If you review Fiat's site they permit voting on ideas. By looking at what people vote for it's possible to distinguish which of the options in a trade-off is favoured.

    There are also more comprehensive tools for trade-off decisions online. Australia2 has one via it's priorities wizard (a little known feature). There are budget tools used by councils online - including one developed locally by BangTheTable which not only allow trade-offs to be made, but explain the consequences.

    So while a deliberative process should never be ignored, you can go much further towards synthesizing options online.

  4. Eric, Linux worked because Linus made the ultimate decisions! I welcome *your* inclusive view of crowdsourcing, but I don't think the common view extends beyond one-way submission.

    Craig, in my Gov20 submission I did a HT to Australia2 (aka nationbuilder), so it is definitely on the right track. But your last sentence doesn't make sense to me, as online synthesis of options is the deliberation I am talking about. What we need are precisely those tools that help it along more engagingly than mere voting, which deliberative theorists say should be done when nothing else works. If you and I make quite different suggestions, then we need a way to find the common ground between them, and perhaps together make a third suggestion that is more inclusive.

  5. Hi rlubensky,

    I understand what you were saying better now.

    Perhaps a tool like MixedInk instead?