James Surowiecki opens his book The Wisdom of Crowds with the example of Francis Galton, a famous statistician, who asked individuals to guess the weight of an ox. After collecting all the guesses, he came to a startling conclusion. Most of the people were wrong. However, if you took the median of all guesses, the group was closer to the true weight than even the best cattle experts.

After reading his book, I've become more interested in the power of communities. That's why, when tasked with creating the ultimate Gmail T-shirt design, I decided to turn to the wisdom of the crowds: you, our creative and tech-savvy Gmail users. Starting today you can submit a design that you think embodies the Gmail personality most. Also, you'll be able score designs and let us know the designs that you think have the most potential (think: not ox weight, but T-shirt awesomeness).

We've teamed up with Threadless.com which does this sort of thing all the time. Threadless.com is a site where anyone can submit designs that they'd like to see appear on a T-shirt, people vote, and a small number of winners are printed and sold online. Today, Gmail and Threadless launched a competition created specifically for Gmail with the theme "Connect!" To make it even more interesting, we're giving away an 8GB iPhone, a Jawbone Bluetooth headset, a $400 gift certificate from JetBlue Airlines, some fun Google schwag, and a whole bunch of moolah to the winning designer. So go ahead and pull out your Moleskine notebook, sharpen those No. 2 pencils, and submit away. The contest opens today, and will close at 11:59:59pm CST on August 16th.

Remember that I'll be looking to all of you to help grade the designs. In a way, I trust your judgment more than mine. After all, I once tried to launch Gmail Paper.

Learn more about the contest.