posts about or somewhat related to ‘crowdsourcing’

Have You Seen this Book?
Lexicographers, philologists and bibliophiles unite: there’s a book that needs to be found.
As the Oxford English Dictionary overhauls its dictionaries it’s reexamining the more than 300,000 entries in the OED. Sometimes though, the original sources are hard to find. Case in point, Meanderings of Memory by Nightlark, which is referenced 49 times from 1852. The OED can’t find the book in its catalog or databases. All it has to work with is the fragment seen above from a bookseller.
Via Sasha Weiss in the New Yorker:

I asked Katherine Connor Martin, head of U.S. dictionaries for Oxford University Press, about how the search had come about. Her answer amounted to a mini-history of the O.E.D.’s longtime practice of calling on the general public to aid its lexicographers. “We like to say the O.E.D. has been crowdsourcing since before there was a word for crowdsourcing,” she said.
In 1879, James Murray, a leading member of the British Philological Society who edited the first edition of the O.E.D., put out “An Appeal to English Speaking Readers,” asking for volunteers to comb through periodicals, pamphlets, works of literature, and scientific and philosophical treatises, and note down unusual words and to quote the sentences in which they appeared. “Anyone can help,” Murray wrote, “especially with modern books.” Readers took down their findings on six-by-four index cards—called “slips”—and submitted them to the dictionary’s editors. Over a million quotations were collected before the publication of the dictionary’s first installment. (The practice has continued, with a few lapses, since then—now it exists in digital form.) According to the O.E.D.’s Web site, “The quotations are one of the most important aspects of the entries contained in the OED. They document the history of a term from its earliest to its most recent recorded usage.”

So, word nerds, the hunt is on. A global search for a single book.
Image: Catalog entry for Meanderings of Memory, via the OED.

Have You Seen this Book?

Lexicographers, philologists and bibliophiles unite: there’s a book that needs to be found.

As the Oxford English Dictionary overhauls its dictionaries it’s reexamining the more than 300,000 entries in the OED. Sometimes though, the original sources are hard to find. Case in point, Meanderings of Memory by Nightlark, which is referenced 49 times from 1852. The OED can’t find the book in its catalog or databases. All it has to work with is the fragment seen above from a bookseller.

Via Sasha Weiss in the New Yorker:

I asked Katherine Connor Martin, head of U.S. dictionaries for Oxford University Press, about how the search had come about. Her answer amounted to a mini-history of the O.E.D.’s longtime practice of calling on the general public to aid its lexicographers. “We like to say the O.E.D. has been crowdsourcing since before there was a word for crowdsourcing,” she said.

In 1879, James Murray, a leading member of the British Philological Society who edited the first edition of the O.E.D., put out “An Appeal to English Speaking Readers,” asking for volunteers to comb through periodicals, pamphlets, works of literature, and scientific and philosophical treatises, and note down unusual words and to quote the sentences in which they appeared. “Anyone can help,” Murray wrote, “especially with modern books.” Readers took down their findings on six-by-four index cards—called “slips”—and submitted them to the dictionary’s editors. Over a million quotations were collected before the publication of the dictionary’s first installment. (The practice has continued, with a few lapses, since then—now it exists in digital form.) According to the O.E.D.’s Web site, “The quotations are one of the most important aspects of the entries contained in the OED. They document the history of a term from its earliest to its most recent recorded usage.”

So, word nerds, the hunt is on. A global search for a single book.

Image: Catalog entry for Meanderings of Memory, via the OED.

Readers Capture the Complexity of the US-Mexican Border

fjp-latinamerica:

What does life look like along the 2,000 miles of the US-Mexico border?

The New York Times crowdsourced reader photos, from the intimate to the aerial, to tell the visual story. 

FJP: One of the best crowdsourced interactive features we’ve seen in a long time. Yet, you will need more than a thousand pictures to really grasp what exactly is going on along the US-Mexico border, one of the busiest in the world. And, as you most certainly know, it is not only about Tijuana anymore, but about a long series of bordertowns than span all the way East until the Rio Grande Valley.

H/T: Propublica.

In less than a decade, Wikipedia has grown from a frequently ridiculed experiment to one of the world’s most popular websites. The online encyclopedia has reached near-ubiquity among Internet users and is often invoked as a synecdoche for user-generated content communities, crowdsourcing, peer production, and Web 2.0. As such, it is hardly surprising that a number of high-impact statistics demonstrating the project’s unexpected success are frequently mentioned in the public sphere. As of April 2012, there have been 528 million edits made to the English-language version and a total of 1.29 billion edits across all language versions. Other commentators describe the project in terms of its article content, not the amount of work put into those articles, and such figures are equally daunting: 19 million encyclopedia articles contain 8 billion words in 270 languages, and the English-language Wikipedia alone has 3.9 million articles containing 2.5 billion words.

While most of these and other statistics are backed up by a substantial amount of empirical research, estimations of the total number of labor-hours contributed to Wikipedia are one notable exception. However, this has not stopped champions of the project from stating with more and less certainty that Wikipedia is one of the largest projects in human history…

…[A] well-documented and often-repeated labor hour estimation is that of the Empire State Building, which took 3,000 laborers a total of 7 million labor-hours to construct. Figures for the construction of the Channel Tunnel report a total 170 million labor-hours, while estimations of the Great Pyramid at Giza range from 880 million to 3.5 billion labor-hours. The first edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica was written and published by 3 employees authoring 24 pages a week for 100 weeks, which is around 12,000 labor-hours assuming 40 hour work week…

…Summing the duration of all continuous editing sessions and single edit sessions, we identified 41,018,804 total labor-hours expended in the English-language version of Wikipedia… Extrapolating to all language version of Wikipedia based on the total number of edits made to each project, we estimate that 61,706,883 total labor-hours have been contributed in edit sessions for non-English language Wikipedias, for a total of 102,673,683 total labor-hours to all Wikipedia versions.

R. Stuart Geiger and Aaron Halfaker, Using Edit Sessions to Measure Participation in Wikipedia (PDF).

FJP: That’s approximately 11,720 years of peer production. 

Dear Mr. President: Share what you want out of Obama's second term on NPR →

It’s pretty simple to do, and very interesting to explore:

Take a photo of yourself holding a sign with a key word or phrase you want the president to remember.

Then explain, in as many words as you want, what you mean and see yourself here.

Global Voices and the Power of We →

See Global Voices, a citizen journalism site that does an incredible job of providing passionate people with a place to coordinate and research, write, translate and distribute online news. Above is a case study of a land grab in Brazil, and follows the story from idea to Italian, among other languages.

Occupy Crowdsourcing Debt Forgiveness
Strike Debt, an Occupy Wall Street offshoot, launched Rolling Jubilee late last week to buy back and forgive debt. To do so, it’s collecting funds and then purchasing debt in arrears:

Banks sell debt for pennies on the dollar on a shadowy speculative market of debt buyers who then turn around and try to collect the full amount from debtors. The Rolling Jubilee intervenes by buying debt, keeping it out of the hands of collectors, and then abolishing it. We’re going into this market not to make a profit but to help each other out and highlight how the predatory debt system affects our families and communities. Think of it as a bailout of the 99% by the 99%.

As of this morning, Rolling Jubilee has raised over $350,000 with which it has purchased (and forgiven) over $7.1 million in debt.
Small change when compared to the $1 trillion in student loan debt Americans owe but important to consider. As Rolling Jubilee notes, part of the effort is to “highlight how the predatory debt system affects our families and communities.”

Occupy Crowdsourcing Debt Forgiveness

Strike Debt, an Occupy Wall Street offshoot, launched Rolling Jubilee late last week to buy back and forgive debt. To do so, it’s collecting funds and then purchasing debt in arrears:

Banks sell debt for pennies on the dollar on a shadowy speculative market of debt buyers who then turn around and try to collect the full amount from debtors. The Rolling Jubilee intervenes by buying debt, keeping it out of the hands of collectors, and then abolishing it. We’re going into this market not to make a profit but to help each other out and highlight how the predatory debt system affects our families and communities. Think of it as a bailout of the 99% by the 99%.

As of this morning, Rolling Jubilee has raised over $350,000 with which it has purchased (and forgiven) over $7.1 million in debt.

Small change when compared to the $1 trillion in student loan debt Americans owe but important to consider. As Rolling Jubilee notes, part of the effort is to “highlight how the predatory debt system affects our families and communities.”

fjp-latinamerica:

The VO1CE Project: citizen journalism and developmentThink citizen journalism, think crowdsourcing, think video-documentaries, think advocacy, think mapping, think civic media. This is what the Vo1ce Project is about. An idea developed by Angelo Greco and Marija Govedarica focused on training citizens in underserved communities to report on sensitive issues and then publishing their findings on a web-based platform. Vo1ce’s goal is to foster community development by engaging marginalized localities in documenting and sharing information.“We decided to focus, at least on this early stage of the project, on covering censorship because the problem is everywhere, and we think it affects every single layer of the communities in the Americas”, said Greco, a graduate from The American University, during an interview in a cafe in Mexico City.Currently, Vo1ce has ongoing projects in Serbia, the USA, Mexico, Colombia and Brazil. Angelo was visiting Mexico City looking for citizen journalists, journalists, activists, and human rights advocates willing to join the censorship project that is about to take off in the Latin American countries. After his stop in Mexico, he traveled to Medellin, Colombia, also looking for supporters. (Interested in joining the cause? send an email to info@vo1ceproject.org)Why are they focusing in Latin America?The complexities of the region in terms of the challenges faced by underserved communities and the interest of professional journalists to mentor citizen journalists are a great mix they’ve found in the region, said Greco.According to Greco, the main challenges ahead for Vo1ce will be to find journalists and activists willing to join the cause, developing a friendly-yet-professional mobile app to help capture and transfer footage and then find the best way to publish the findings of their different projects in a visually compelling platform.The Vo1ce Project is an NGO currently going through a fundraising campaign.Image: Angelo and Marija founders of the Vo1ce Project.

Follow FJP Latin America: Tumblr | Twitter | Facebook.

fjp-latinamerica:

The VO1CE Project: citizen journalism and development

Think citizen journalism, think crowdsourcing, think video-documentaries, think advocacy, think mapping, think civic media. This is what the Vo1ce Project is about. An idea developed by Angelo Greco and Marija Govedarica focused on training citizens in underserved communities to report on sensitive issues and then publishing their findings on a web-based platform. Vo1ce’s goal is to foster community development by engaging marginalized localities in documenting and sharing information.

“We decided to focus, at least on this early stage of the project, on covering censorship because the problem is everywhere, and we think it affects every single layer of the communities in the Americas”, said Greco, a graduate from The American University, during an interview in a cafe in Mexico City.

Currently, Vo1ce has ongoing projects in Serbia, the USA, Mexico, Colombia and Brazil. Angelo was visiting Mexico City looking for citizen journalists, journalists, activists, and human rights advocates willing to join the censorship project that is about to take off in the Latin American countries. After his stop in Mexico, he traveled to Medellin, Colombia, also looking for supporters. (Interested in joining the cause? send an email to info@vo1ceproject.org)

Why are they focusing in Latin America?
The complexities of the region in terms of the challenges faced by underserved communities and the interest of professional journalists to mentor citizen journalists are a great mix they’ve found in the region, said Greco.

According to Greco, the main challenges ahead for Vo1ce will be to find journalists and activists willing to join the cause, developing a friendly-yet-professional mobile app to help capture and transfer footage and then find the best way to publish the findings of their different projects in a visually compelling platform.

The Vo1ce Project is an NGO currently going through a fundraising campaign.

Image: Angelo and Marija founders of the Vo1ce Project.

Follow FJP Latin America: Tumblr | Twitter | Facebook.

The idea of crowdsourcing geopolitical forecasting is increasing in popularity, and not just for spies.

Sharon Weinberger, BBC. Intelligence agencies turn to crowdsourcing.

Sharon’s talking about Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, a US Government program that crowdsources geopolitical predictions.

Sharon suggests that the crowd may foresee events that we wouldn’t guess at otherwise, like these infamous examples:

The intelligence community has often been blasted for its failure to forecast critical world events, from the fall of the Soviet Union to the Arab Spring that swept across North Africa and the Middle East.  It was also heavily criticized for its National Intelligence Estimate in 2002, which supported claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Two sites so far that have come from under the program. The first, called Forecasting ACE, was launched last year, and its intro video explains well the sometimes odd wisdom crowds display. 

The latest site, however, is their most interesting. It’s called Global Crowd Intelligence and its creators have catered to our (that is, human) desires for competition, games, and fun.

Writes Sharon:

Indeed, what users wanted, it turned out, was something competitive, so that’s what the company has given them. The new website rewards players who successfully forecast future events by giving them privileged access to certain “missions,” and also allowing them to collect reputation points, which can then be used for online bragging rights. When contributors enter the new site, they start off as junior analysts, but eventually progress to higher levels, allowing them to work on privileged missions.

Appealing to people is, after all, a good way to solicit information from them.

Sharon looks elsewhere, too, where other crowds are making guesses of their own. At Wikistrat, a privately owned, self-titled Massively Multiplayer Online Consultancy (MMOC, seriously) has guessed at possible outcomes for Syria.

Watching Reddit Crowdsource Aurora
If you head over to Reddit you can see the community there come together to create a comprehensive timeline of last night’s shooting in Aurora, Colorado.
They’re doing an incredible job.
Image: Partial Screenshot of Reddit Aurora timeline.

Watching Reddit Crowdsource Aurora

If you head over to Reddit you can see the community there come together to create a comprehensive timeline of last night’s shooting in Aurora, Colorado.

They’re doing an incredible job.

Image: Partial Screenshot of Reddit Aurora timeline.

Today, Harvard joined MIT in announcing edX, an online service allowing anyone anywhere to take Harvard and MIT classes online and free of charge. The pilot course is in Computer Science and runs through early June - enroll here.

The plans, though, go beyond what we’ve seen before. Namely, they open the door to new research.

via Fast Company:

Eventually, edx will offer a full slate of courses in all disciplines, created with faculty at MIT and Harvard, using a simple format of short videos and exercises graded largely by computer; students interact on a wiki and message board, as well as on Facebook groups, with peers substituting for TAs. The research arm of the project will continue to develop new tools using machine learning, robotics and crowdsourcing that allow grading and evaluation of essays, circuit designs and other types of exercises without endless hours by professors or TAs. Although edx is nonprofit and the courses are free, Agarwal envisions bringing the project to sustainability by one day charging students for official certificates of completion. 

Besides Harvard and MIT, Stanford has taken the leap into MOOCs (massively open online courses) along with Princeton, Berkeley, Michigan-Ann Arbor, and University of Pennsylvania in a joint venture with Coursera. Check it out.

Ask Clay Shirky a question
Internet scholar, author and NYU professor Clay Shirky is sitting online right now, answering questions at the Guardian website for their Battle for the Internet series. Ask away!

Ask Clay Shirky a question

Internet scholar, author and NYU professor Clay Shirky is sitting online right now, answering questions at the Guardian website for their Battle for the Internet series. Ask away!

Want an Open Internet? There's a Blueprint for That →

Yesterday Jihii wrote about an effort originating in the Reddit community to crowdsource a privacy bill to protect people’s online rights.

Perhaps, then, a trend, because yesterday also saw the launch The Internet Blueprint, an effort by Public Knowledge, a Washington DC-based digital advocacy group, that crowdsources technology bills that members of Congress can then pick up and run with.

The idea is certainly interesting. What we saw recently in the fights over SOPA and PIPA — and see generally over everything else — is reactive protests against proposed laws drafted with little public input and often by the lobbyists whose groups will most benefit from them.

The Internet Blueprint attempts to turn this process on its head by proactively promoting Internet-related laws that are written in public, by the public (and with Public Knowledge lawyers massaging them into proper DC legalese). Visitors to the site can vote up and comment on particular bills, vote on ideas they think should become proposed bills, and contact their representatives to get behind completed bills.

Via Public Knowledge:

While it can be reasonably easy to get people to agree on broad principles, conflict can often come when it is time to focus on details. That is especially true when it comes to legislative language – a single word (or even a single comma) can change the impact of a bill. That is why The Internet Blueprint goes beyond broad concepts and proposes concrete legislative language. The bills on The Internet Blueprint could be introduced and passed as-is.

The Internet Blueprint is a place for everyone – individuals, organizations, and companies – to come together and make it clear what is important to them. When you visit the site, the first thing you will see is a list of complete bills. Along with the text there is a headline, a short explanation, and a more detailed explanation of both the problem and our solution.

Public Knowledge has seeded the site with a few completed bills that focus on copyright policy and openness in international intellectual property negotiations. You can view them here.

Happy 11th Birthday, Wikipedia!
Via Singularity Hub:

[I]t’s doing more than subsisting, it’s thriving. Wikimedia Foundation’s annual fund drive raised $4.5 million in 2008, $8.7 million in 2009, $15 million in 2010, and now $20 million in 2011. The drive is also getting faster (dropping from 67 days to 50 from 2009-2010), and broader, as seen in the increased number of donors. Besides Wikipedia, there are ten sister projects: Wiktionary, Wikibooks, Wikimedia Commons (aka Wikicommons), Wikispecies, Wikiquote, Wikisource, Wikiversity, Wikinews, MediaWiki, Wikimedia Incubator, and Wikimedia Metawiki. Each has its own dedicated user base and corps of volunteers. WMF has sites in almost every country and in 282 different languages.
The 2011-2012 Foundation Plan calls for expanding the sites further every year. The 2011-2012 budget is actually $28.3 million, with missing funds to be met by grants from institutions like the Sloan Foundation. (This drive and grant combination is the norm, and it seemingly works well.) Wikimedia has increased its hires, bringing the company from 50 to 78 in the past fiscal year and aiming to further increase staff by as many as 35 more hires. Wikimedia Foundation has plenty of money to spend as well, they run a high level of reserves ($13 million or so), and they continue to exceed their expectations in revenue. (Revenue was up 50% or so in 2010). To balance that boon, spending is going to increase by 24% in 2012 to invest in better harnessing the crowd.

Happy 11th Birthday, Wikipedia!

Via Singularity Hub:

[I]t’s doing more than subsisting, it’s thriving. Wikimedia Foundation’s annual fund drive raised $4.5 million in 2008, $8.7 million in 2009, $15 million in 2010, and now $20 million in 2011. The drive is also getting faster (dropping from 67 days to 50 from 2009-2010), and broader, as seen in the increased number of donors. Besides Wikipedia, there are ten sister projects: Wiktionary, Wikibooks, Wikimedia Commons (aka Wikicommons), Wikispecies, Wikiquote, Wikisource, Wikiversity, Wikinews, MediaWiki, Wikimedia Incubator, and Wikimedia Metawiki. Each has its own dedicated user base and corps of volunteers. WMF has sites in almost every country and in 282 different languages.

The 2011-2012 Foundation Plan calls for expanding the sites further every year. The 2011-2012 budget is actually $28.3 million, with missing funds to be met by grants from institutions like the Sloan Foundation. (This drive and grant combination is the norm, and it seemingly works well.) Wikimedia has increased its hires, bringing the company from 50 to 78 in the past fiscal year and aiming to further increase staff by as many as 35 more hires. Wikimedia Foundation has plenty of money to spend as well, they run a high level of reserves ($13 million or so), and they continue to exceed their expectations in revenue. (Revenue was up 50% or so in 2010). To balance that boon, spending is going to increase by 24% in 2012 to invest in better harnessing the crowd.

In the short term, I think the notion of crowdsourcing will be overvalued. Lots of companies that have no business going into crowdsourcing will get into it. But over 10 years, over the long term, the idea of crowdsourcing won’t even be distinguishable from editorial.

— Ben Huh, CEO, Cheezeburger, Inc. The Ethics of the Fail