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More Crowdsourcing

October 24, 2012


            This bit of crowd sourcing news caught my eye after our recent discussion about how it can be used in seemingly limitless situations. Using text and cellphone messages to map the spread of Malaria in Kenya by Harvard School of Public Health is a great example of using input from 15 million cell phones to gain a body of knowledge in a way that couldn’t be done otherwise – no survey or amount of information from clinics would have been as affective. It is a “tool” that libraries have begun to put to good use in the form of Good Reads and Library Thing and there are so many other ways to use it even on a smaller scale. At the public library where I work, gathering information this way hasn’t been used except to “text a librarian”; it is time to start thinking that way.   

5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 24, 2012 12:11 pm

    How interesting! And it is true, cell phones have the potential to provide a wealth of data that can be mined in all sorts of productive manners.

    Recently I downloaded and tried out Powell’s Bookstore ( phone app Meridian. Why would a bookstore have an app? It is an entire city block full of books. That’s 5 floors full of books. While it is well organized, color coded room areas containing subjects, you can still find yourself a bit overwhelmed and lost. This allows you to search by map, facilities and featured. You can also search. For example, I searched for graphic novels, and it gave me an entire list. I saw one I want to look at and it gives me details, a book cover, price, and most importantly (and the real library application) directions to it. Since it’s on my phone, this is very easy.

    Also, Multnomah County Library system has an app too. I should play with it more, but I can search the entire catalog, or look up what’s at my local branch. I can check my account, or contact a librarian. Looking up a book it gives me the bibliographical information, how many copies are available and where they are located. Thanks to inter-library loans, I can request the book to be sent to my closest or most convenient library branch.

    Wave of the future! I hope this sort of thinking and intergration with cell phone technology continues to grow.

  2. dawnrocha99 permalink
    October 24, 2012 4:50 pm

    I believe that Derek had us listen to a TED speech and the speaker also mentioned that use of cellphones in Kenya so there must be additional studies going on. Intriguing in the aspects of advancements for society especially when it is simply a cell phone to most of us.

  3. October 24, 2012 4:55 pm

    Thank you for that article.
    I was under the wrong impression that large cities where the ones most at risk. Its so interesting and scary to know that the spread is not coming from large cities but that the the disease is making its way there by the spread evolving mosquitos.
    Its also very scary to think how technology can be used to track everything, even diseases.
    This story reminds me of another I heard from my LIBR 220 class on maps. During the cholera outbreak in 1854 a doctor discovered the origins of the disease (a contaminated drinking well) by pinpointin on a map all the cases of the cholera outbreak and then tracing back to were there was the heaviest reports. But I’m sure they didn’t use Google Maps for that. If anyone is interested in that story or some more info on maps check out this link:

  4. October 25, 2012 11:03 am

    I don’t know if this is an example of crowdsourcing – it is not collecting ideas on how on how to do a project. Though it is definitely an expanded use of technology to collect data.

  5. jayon615 permalink
    October 26, 2012 10:10 am

    This dovetails nicely with a topic that has interested me since I read this article in the Economist: . It notes that the arrival of cell phones in sub-Saharan Africa is not just an incremental change, but revolutionary to a region that has largely had little or no access to telecommunications in the past. The second to last paragraph mentions that networks are “poised” to provide low-cost access to the internet. In a region where most people have little chance to afford a computer in their lifetime, hand-held devices are the avenue to improving many lives (as they already have). Making our sites accessible to hand-helds is a very important step to further democratization of the Web.

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