Grrrowd: The outsourcing of justice


When people think about crowdsourcing, they will often associate this with companies asking their customers to help them with innovative business ideas. However, it is a lot more than that. Crowdsourcing is used by companies to solve problems; generate ideas; design (logo’s, etc.) and for the outsourcing of tasks. This seems logical; companies utilizing the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ in order to come up with novel business ideas. The pros and cons of crowdsourcing are known by the companies that use this phenomenon. The pros of outsourcing obvious; you will generate a lot of ideas, in a short period of time and at a low cost. On the other hand, the cons might be less obvious. Although, the generating of ideas will go fast and with high volume it is often the case that only a small fraction can even be considered. Many of the ideas are simply not realizable by the firm, due to costs; brand image or other factors.

In 2014 there arose another application of the ‘crowdsourcing’-principle. Greenpeace came up with the idea to crowd source activism. This new application of crowdsourcing has not been seen before. It can be considered as a kind of ‘kickstarter’ for justice. In other words, Greenpeace offers potential users; considering the well-being of our planet, initiatives to participate in their activism. They have created a platform on which people can contribute to specific activism projects. They call this ‘the outsourcing of justice’. Examples of project in which people can invest are; A case to block the Ibutho coal company’s application for mining rights in the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa; A case from a coffee farmer in Uganda who has been thrown off his land; A case to stop manufacturers of Genetically Modified Corn from invading the country where corn was born. (greenpeace.org)

The first case that was described above was an initiative to participate in blocking the activities of a coal company in a nature reserve in Africa. The coal company and their way of earning money would be a direct threat to the inhabitants of this nature reserve. This nature reserve was home to the greatest rhino population in the world and was the last 1% true wilderness in South-Africa. (greenpeace.org) People could visit the platform and just as with Kickstarter, donate money for the specific cause.

Greenpeace has been the first company, within this domain, which has made use of crowd sourcing in order to achieve a greater goal. It was not only possible to donate money for specific causes, but also to ask attention for these causes by re-posting the cause on social media. As they specify it themselves: “Grrrowd is founded in the belief that the special interests that drive environmental destruction and human injustice can be defeated by the power of the crowd”. (greenpeace.org) I think it is great initiative to make use crowd sourcing in this context. Not only will they obtain money for their activism, but people might also be encouraged to ask attention for specific causes which they find important. This is different from the conventional way in which companies like Greenpeace obtain money. Normally, they will ask you to subscribe and donate a fixed amount of money monthly. In this new initiative, people can still donate money. However, the money is directly associated with a specific goal that these donators consider as important. This will add a personal touch to activism, also creating synergies by the use of social media. After all, you are not just asking money for the good cause; but also helping Greenpeace get attention for specific causes.

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