Actually, Crowdsourcing is Evil

(note: if you are reading the blog rather than RSS please excuse the design. There have been problems following the Worpress 2.9 upgrade, and I’ll get around to fixing them once Christmas 2009 is behind us.)

Following yesterday’s post about 102 misguided translators blaming crowdsourcing for their woes I have come across an article in the New Scientist with the headline, ‘The sinister powers of crowdsourcing.’ Unlike the translators this reporter actually has a point in noting that the effectiveness of crowdsourcing can also be applied to less alturistic activities than online encyclopedias and cause-driven movements. For example, law enforcement officials in Texas have installed a network of CCTV cameras to monitor key areas along that state’s 1900-kilometre-long border with Mexico. To help screen the footage, a website lets anyone log in to watch a live feed from a border camera and report suspicious activity.

Another example is a system called Internet Eyes, which pays online viewers to spot shoplifters from in-store camera feeds. It’s going to launch in the UK in 2010, and I look forward to being a vigilante for my local Boots pharmacy. A more disturbing application is an Iranian website which is offering rewards for identifying people in photos taken during protests over June’s elections.

The fact that the benefits of mass collaboration are being used by the forces of evil further evidences that their impact. That can only be a good thing.

Merry Christmas!

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