A top quality group of college students from around the nation will join the US State Department this fall. These students, known as “e-interns,” will be working from coffee shops, the college library, and even their dorm rooms, on tasks related to diplomacy around the world. Since the tasks are being crowdsourced, they can be worked on 24/7. This initiative of the State Department, also known as the Virtual Student Foreign Service, is a way of taking baby steps to exploit technology to expand and develop international relations.
“Microtasking” approaches like this one leverage the human intelligence that exists within the crowd – inherently a larger than the average workforce – to create value. They use innovations in technology to allocate small, distinct jobs to independent contractors working online. These tasks can take just about any format – Boston Citizens Connect, for example, is a smartphone app that allows residents to take pictures of potholes, graffiti and other problems and send it to the city.
None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be or where the new jobs will come from… What we can do – what America does better than anyone else – is spark the creativity and imagination of our people.
President Barack Obama, 2011 State of the Union Address
This move to utilize crowdsourcing is no surprise as a few months ago the President proposed regulatory reform for crowdfunding, making it easier for startups to… start up.