Yet another innovation to accelerate the pace of solving problems has crossed my screen this evening. TopCoder, at TopCoder.com, is a group formed to crowd source software. There are currently over 450,000 people signed up to help create software for non profits and government organizations. The thing is that they all write their code within the structure of contests, winning recognition and prizes.
It’s kind of ingenious. How do you know you have hired the best programmer? You don’t. But if you have a contest to come up with the best code, you get the best code. Everyone participates in the hopes of showing off their skills. Some are amateurs. Some are top professionals. But the playing field itself is level. Write great code and you might just win the prize.
There is a current contest to develop software to aim the solar panels of the International Space Station more efficiently so they will produce more power. TopCoder runs a series of weekly and annual contests, so there are plenty of opportunities.
Great Idea: Crowd sourcing to get the best software to handle emergent needs.
Practical Step: Run a contest to get lots of programmers competing to come up with the best solutions.