Nightscout, a free innovation project
An example of a crowdsourcing call by free innovators is the Nightscout project described in chapter 1. Recall that this free innovation project is devoted to the development and distribution of improvements to medical devices used by diabetes patients. Note the implicit call for additional volunteer effort in the project description text posted on the Nightscout webpage:
Nightscout was developed by parents of children with Type 1 Diabetes and has continued to be developed, maintained, and supported by volunteers. When first implemented, Nightscout was a solution specifically for remote monitoring of Dexcom G4 CGM data. Today, there are Nightscout solutions available for Dexcom G4, Dexcom Share with Android, Dexcom Share with iOS, and Medtronic. The goal of the project is to allow remote monitoring of a T1D's [Type 1 diabetic's] glucose level using existing monitoring devices. (Nightscout project 2016.)
Foldit, a citizen science project
As an example of a crowdsourcing call for free household sector contributions to a citizen science project, consider Foldit. Foldit is a project developed and sponsored by scientists from the University of Washington to study how proteins fold in nature. Needing many specific protein-folding solutions as inputs to their research, the scientists sought free help from "the crowd.” Because people in the household sector do not have a personal use for protein-folding solutions, the scientists sought to attract participants by offering other forms of self-reward. Specifically, they designed their project to offer the self-rewards common to games played for pleasure, utilizing gamification design practices (Zicherman and Cunningham 2011):
To attract the widest possible audience for the game and encourage prolonged engagement, we designed the game so that the supported motivations and the reward structure are diverse, including short-term rewards (game score), longterm rewards (player status and rank), social praise (chats and forums), the ability to work individually or in a team, and the connection between the game and scientific outcomes. (Cooper, Khatib, Treuille, Barbero, Lee, Beenen, Leaver-Fay, Baker, Popovic, and Foldit players 2010, 760.)
The Foldit game is difficult, requiring online training sessions before productive play can begin. Still, the scientists were successful in attracting many people to help, with 46,000 volunteers playing Foldit during their unpaid, discretionary time in 2011. The work these volunteers contributed was very valuable to the project's sponsors, providing specific protein-folding solutions and also providing new methodological insights that were then used to improve computerized folding algorithms.
The scientist-developers of Foldit conducted a small, informal survey asking contributors why they had chosen to participate in Foldit (Cooper et al. 2010). Forty-eight players responded with up to three reasons each. As would be expected in view of the subject matter, use and sale motives were entirely absent. About 30 percent of respondents reported that immersion (e.g., "it is fun and relaxing”) was important; 20 percent mentioned achievement (e.g., "to get a higher score than the next player”); 10 percent mentioned social benefits (e.g., "great camaraderie”); 40 percent reported being motivated by a wish to support the purpose of the project (e.g., [I wanted to help] "to crack the protein folding code for science”) (supplement to Cooper et al. 2010, 12). These self-rewarding motives probably are similar to those involved in other forms of charitable giving: One gives in part "to help others” and in part to support a specific cause of high personal interest (Webb, Green, and Brashear 2000).