What’s a Crowdsourced Information Platform?
Crowdsourced Information Platform is how I refer in my head to the collective of services that have started in recent times to collect news reports, incident reports, personal stories et al in the form of a web post (as in Social Media) or an audio report recorded via an IVR system, a video uploaded via smartphone or even a simple SMS…and all the others that are sure to follow.
Essentially any form of two way communication, with a large user base. Note that one way information dissemination systems (such as TV, print media and IVR systems that dont let you record) don’t fall under my definition of a Crowdsourced Information Platform.
Some examples of Crowdsourced Information Platforms:
RuaiSMS (and other sites based on FrontlineSMS)
All kinds of Ushahidi websites
Facebook, Twitter et al
Google…all of it
Email (yep, and I’ll explain…in painful detail)
Why we need integration between platforms
We all know that most of the Web is user generated…simply because everyone on the Web IS a user. However, as we open more channels of content, the definition of user must undergo some evolution. Different users will have different access mechanisms and therefore potentially radically different views of the same information. In order to be able to provide some order to the chaos, mechanisms will be required to group and link content.
Attempts are already underway to set up repositories of crowdsourced data. However, the variance in media being the way it is, it is unlikely that any single centralized system will be able to cover everything and everyone.
A distributed system is needed where each node is able to communicate using a minimum acceptable standard. Where a medium cannot meet the peer communication standard, a translator can be introduced as an intervention.
By keeping the peer standard constant, the only requirement to add a new medium to the network remains to write a translator from that medium’s existing communication mode to the network standard.
Our (Mojolab’s) recommendation for that standard is EMail.
Email has been around for a looong time. It is one of the earliest applications of networking between computers and has been hammered into shape by, in IT timescales, the weight of millennia.