Crowdsourcing and Development

by: Yalin Xin, Ph.DJul 11, 2017comments

Confucius once said to his disciples, “Amongst three people walking, one can be my teacher.”

Last Wednesday I went to the seminar “Crowd Sourcing as a Model for Localization” taught by Gilles Gravelle, Director of Research & Innovation at The Seed Company, an organization working to accelerate the rate of Scripture translation around the world. One point he made is that “Research has shown that groups (the crowd) made up of smart agents (e.g. experts) and not-so-smart agents (the people at large) always did better than a group made up of only smart agents.” Gilles proposed a fresh use of an old idea, crowd sourcing, and described how the third millennium has created a context for the pervasive use of this methodology. He explained how the crowd, or the community, represents collective intelligence in a variety of aspects: insights, skills, experiences, giftings, desires, and special knowledge. It was especially interesting when he shared the case study on Bible translation through web-based social networking; that is, he shared how the indigenous community from all walks of life participated in the project, commenting, discussing, translating, and critiquing each other’s translations. As he stated during the seminar, “The intelligence of the crowd grows as people inform and learn from one another.”

It reminded me of RYE’s article on “Wyclipedia” published earlier this year in WCIDJ’s special edition on William Carey. The author finds inspiration from William Carey’s methodology in Bible translation (a prototype of crowd sourcing?), and, combining the “wikipedia format and Wycliffian purpose,” proposes Wyclipedia, which, as a wiki, “could allow volunteers to easily contribute their biblical and linguistic gifts towards the cause of Bible translation. Those from similar language groups, those who are currently students, those who have health issues, etc. can actively help others read God’s Word in the language of their hearts” (RYE 2011).

What are some of the ways that you can adapt crowd sourcing in what you do?

Yalin Xin, Ph.D

Yalin Xin is the associate professor of intercultural studies at William Carey International University. He was formerly a research fellow at the Center for the Study of World Christian Revitalization Movements and Senior Editor for the William Carey International Development Journal. His research interest includes Christian renewal and revitalization movements and Christianity in China.