When I reflect back on how I use online structures I see 3 main directions.
The first and most commonly used simply involves my network of friends, that I connect through via Facebook, Skype or through phone services such as Viber or tango. With my network of friends distributed around the world, it helps me keep in contact, but also keep up to date with what they are doing, by following their timeline, posts, or new interests (often through Facebook). Direct communication is my preferred method, as it allows to create a conversation/discussion in real time, instead of bouncing idea’s back and forth. Of course there is a division between how I use these structures in my different social circles. During Team work, or projects the structure help largely to keep everyone updated, and informed on what has been done, what needs to be done, when.
The second way in which I use online structures, is to explore & gather information. These topics are currently of personal interest, due to school, or personal projects. Websites like Wikipedia, Online Database forums, or Google Scholar, help tremendously in acquiring basic information, but also to gain insights & in-depth knowledge. Even when tackling everyday problems in the house, like fixing things, these structure prove to be very helpful.
The last direction in which I use online structure is to find inspiration, new ideas, or to simply release some energy by going on 9gag. Website like Edge.org and TED, are always a good source of information, but often have innovative, or creative perspective on how to solve issues, or go about handling them.
So how does Crowdsourcing fit into all this?
For me, to be truthful, Crowdsourcing has not yet had such a great impact on me. Although asking questions on yahoo.answers could be considered as such, there is a lot more potential to crowdsourcing I have to unlock. In order to do this, I have to find groups that share my interest, on diverse social or online platforms, with whom I can discuss idea’s, ask for insights, or simply give my view on the topic at hand. An great example for this would be Kitesurfing. Although I love the sport, and have great beaches around holland to do so, they are often inaccessible without a car, making it difficult for me to attain. However through online groups, it could be possible to organise a trip, with 3 or 4 people, who have time & interest. This would pool resources, and would only require one individual to actually have a car, with shared gas costs. This is a simple way to crowdsource, and is almost like Car pooling.
I can see how crowdsourcing can be a helpful tool to anyone, and can often make life easier.