By Gofire Staff

Coined in a 2006 Wired article, the term “crowdsourcing” describes how we tap into the power of community to solve problems and redeploy resources.

The concept itself isn’t new: Baby showers, barn raisings and blood drives are all pre-modern examples of crowdsourcing. But technology has accelerated and expanded crowdsourcing’s power and reach. Our newfound ability to aggregate contributions from a large group of people via the internet has changed everything from consumer behavior to health and wellness.

Sometimes, crowdsourcing draws on the economic power of the group, as in the case of Kickstarter or Kiva (or even group health insurance).

Crowdsourcing also taps into the wisdom of the collective: Wikipedia crowdsources knowledge; Yelp crowdsources consumer opinions on everything from doctors and mechanics to restaurants and local businesses; and Waze, a navigation app, taps into real-time traveling speeds of users in its network to suggest route information for others, and it encourages people to report car accidents, speed traps and heavy traffic to benefit all Waze users.

Yelp and Waze support the arguments made by James Surowiecki in his 2004 book, The Wisdom of Crowds. He makes the claim that any information and conclusions supplied by a group can be far more valuable than the opinions of individuals, even if those individuals are experts.

Crowdsourcing has also reached the health and wellness space. For example, Crowdsourced Health Research Studies, a recent paper in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, argues that three trends are converging to change our approach to health and wellness: citizen science, in which non-professionally trained individuals conduct science-related activities; the active participation of individuals in their own health care; and crowdsourcing.

The authors of the paper noted: “Participatory health is a growing area with individuals using health social networks, crowdsourced studies, smartphone health applications and personal health records to achieve positive outcomes for a variety of health conditions. … Crowdsourced health research studies are a promising complement and extension to traditional clinical trials as a model for the conduct of health research.”

Before going out to dinner in New York City, which would you check: Yelp or reviews by the food critic at The New York Times? Most of us would check Yelp, because we want to hear about the experiences of people like us, and we trust the opinions of the many more than the conclusions of one expert.

In the same way, citizen science and the wisdom of crowds form the foundation of the Gofire community-based ecosystem.

Whether you are searching for relief from chronic pain, lack of appetite or insomnia, Gofire allows you to tap into community wisdom and lean on anonymous product reviews and ratings from people like you. Plant medicine can address so many modern health ailments, but trying to choose the right product can be overwhelming. At Gofire, we believe participatory health care and citizen science are the keys to solving that problem.

Like Yelp, the Gofire app lets you cut to the chase and find highly rated products that others like you have found effective. Like Waze, Gofire gives users up-to-the-minute ratings and reviews on plant-based products, and the app just gets better and more effective as we receive input from more Gofire community members and the amount of data grows.

Surowiecki says collective wisdom is shaping business, economies and societies; at Gofire, we would add that it’s transforming health and wellness by allowing individuals to contribute to a knowledge base accessible to many.