The internet is a cauldron of innovation and collaboration, but nowhere is innovation really captured in a way that leverages the distributed nature of the internet. We have a plethora of innovation hubs, angel investment communities and university associations aimed at fostering innovation, but these institutions are fundamentally 20th century concepts, designed around physical places. At best, they're online variants of those places.
I remember being amazed when Encyclopaedia Britannica released online versions back in the late 1990s. But when Wikipedia came, it was profound beyond words. While the digital versions of Britannica represented a big improvement to a 19th century technology, Wikipedia was a 21st century revolution. It leveraged the power of crowds in a completely new way.
I've never been an active participant in crowdsourcing, but I appreciate the concept. Allowing intrepid consumers to meet with inventors is a brilliant decentralisation of the process of producing great inventions. Creating great products is the final step in the innovation process, and crowdsourcing only supports innovation tangentially, via a darwinian process of supporting those products that fill a need. Can't we bring the power of crowdsourcing to bear on the process of innovation itself?