Monday, 12 February 2007

News agency and citizen journalism

AP partners with citizen journalism site

The Associated Press has partnered with a citizen journalism site,, to integrate user-generated content into the wires. AP bureaus will work with NowPublic communities in selected locations on ways to enhance regional news coverage, and national AP news desks also may tap the network in breaking news situations where citizen contributors may capture critical information and images.

More informations here (

(The Associated Press, or AP, is an American news agency, the world's largest such organization.)

Also, "CNN to boost citizen journalism initiative"

Monday, 5 February 2007

Amateurs brain power to the rescue

This post is about the disappearance at sea and search of James Gray (a computer scientist who received the Turing Award in 1998)

From the wikipedia article:

After a short solo sailing trip to the Farallon Islands near San Francisco to scatter his mother's ashes, his 40-foot yacht was reported missing on Sunday, January 28, 2007. The Coast Guard searched for four days using a C-130 plane, helicopter and patrol boats but found no sign of the vessel.

On February 1, 2007, the DigitalGlobe satellite did a scan of the area, generating thousands of images.The images were posted to Amazon Mechanical Turk in order to distribute the work of searching through them, in hopes of spotting his boat. View the HITs for more details.

What I find interesting here is the use of amateurs and web users to scan through huge amounts of pictures.

It's well known the computer can't match the brain for shapes recognition. I find the initiative of this "HIT" (Human Intelligence Task) very interesting since you don't need to be a professional to actually contribute to an important research task.

The HIT page for the search of James Gray (unfortunately the search area was partly clouded)

The HIT of Amazon (mechanical turk) Home page with others projects: and a wikipedia article about it.

EDIT 8 Feb 07:

The Blog Smart Mobs has now an interesting article on the subject.

Collective intelligence and satellite technology in the search for Jim Gray

"Flickr User Becomes Pro for Microsoft"

Flickr user Hamad Darwish is one of a small group of flickr users who were approached by Microsoft for either use of their photos or commissioned to to create new images for the desktop backgrounds that are included in the new Windows Vista operating system.

This is an interesting example of the line blurring between professional photographers and amateurs/enthusiasts. Hamad, whose photos are indeed lovely, is not a pro nor does he intend to become one. Photo sharing sites like flickr make visible the photographs of amateurs in an unprecedented way. It is no longer only professionals whose work is exposed to photo buyers.

Read more of this story here:
Flickr User Becomes Pro for Microsoft

Thursday, 1 February 2007

"The world is flat" ... and you.

I've just finished chapter 1 of the "The World is flat" from Thomas L. Friedman.

He argues the world is now "flat" and he distinguishes three phases in the history of "globalisation". To summarize:

Globalisation 1.0 : Countries

Start: 1492 when Columbus open trade between the Old World and the New World
End: around 1800
World: "the world shrank from a size large to a size medium"
Main actor: Countries
Main need: where does my country fit into global competition and opportunities ?
Main engine: muscles, horsepower, wind power, steam power...

Globalisation 2.0 : Multinational companies

Start: 1800
End: 2000
World: "the world shrank from size medium to size small"
Main actor: Multinational companies
Main need: where does my company fit into global competition and opportunities ?
Main engine: falling of transportation and latter communication costs to give birth to a "global market"

Globalisation 3.0 : Individuals

Start: 2000
End: ? ;)
World: "... from a size small to a size tiny and flattening the playing field in the same time" (the "flat world platform")
Main actor: Individuals
Main need: individuals to collaborate and compete globally for diverse reasons
Main engine: Personal Computers, Fiber optic cable (web, ...) , work flow software ...

I think the wikipedia is a typical example of Globalisation 3.0 (not supported by a country or a multinational but by individuals).

The author gives plenty of example in this first chapter to support his view of a "flat world platform". An interesting read so far. :)