Coined by Jeff Howe of Wired magazine, "crowdsourcing" is a neologism for the act of taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined large group of people in the form of an "open call."
This term has become popular with business authors and journalists as shorthand for the trend of leveraging the mass collaboration enabled by Web 2.0 technologies to achieve business goals.
Historical perspective: In early 2012, the Finnish government enabled something called a “citizens’ initiative”, through which registered voters can come up with new laws – if they can get 50,000 of their fellow citizens to back them up within six months, then the Eduskunta (the Finnish parliament) is forced to vote on the proposal. Now this crowdsourced law-making system is about to go online through a platform called the Open Ministry. The non-profit organization has been collecting signatures for various proposals on paper since 1 March 2012, when citizens’ initiatives came in, and recently the government approved the electronic ID mechanism that underpins the digital version of the platform. That means it is expected to go live on 1 October. 2012.