The Vast Power and Knowledge of the Crowd

The Vast Power and Knowledge of the Crowd

Human beings have incredible pattern-recognition abilities, which drive us to make meaningful connections across a vast array of information. Through its free exchange of information and capacity to reach a colossal audience, the Internet is an empowering place for individuals to revolutionize the future trajectory of mankind.


Citizen investigative journalism is a prime example of this empowerment as anyone can tap into the Internet’s readily available and free information–a.k.a. open source information through websites such as YouTube, GoogleMaps, Reddit–to expose issues that would otherwise be ignored. We consumers of the Internet are no longer left in the dark waiting to be fed breaking news through traditional news outlets. Instead we are able to reverse engineer the global media landscape: anyone can use open source informantion at their disposal to uncover the news.

The recent crash of MH17 over east Ukraine illustrates the crucial need for individuals to collaborate and piece together open source information to find answers on their own. Bellingcat, a site that unites the power of citizen investigative journalism, outlines how open source techniques were able to find the Buk missile launcher that allegedly shot down the passenger plane.

Eliot Higgins, pseudonym Brown Moses, is the founder of Bellingcat. Eliot is a laid-off government worker turned blogger turned weapons analysis expert and leading source of information on the conflict in Syria. He began his Brown Moses blog in March 2012, obsessively devoting himself to studying everything he could find online about the Syrian conflict. Unable to understand or speak Arabic, he focused on something purely visual: weapons. Without any formal training, he is now one of the most highly praised citizen investigative journalists in the world—a “Rocket Man” who breaks war stories from his couch.

Eliot is raising funds the way he knows best—through sourcing the crowd through crowdfunding. The intersection of open source information and crowdsourcing fascinates me in how they are both driven by forums that encourage transparency, verifiability, and active participation of the online community. This innovation does not come from large, structured establishments, rather the power of a single person who builds knowledge, wealth, and power through social networks and the power of information.

As the rise of the Internet continues to advance exponentially, it’s an exciting time to be caught in the middle of this web and witness the growth of these two fields take off.

Image Source: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-0zfxNuHJrQA/T56h_emIAVI/AAAAAAAAAiw/FFzy8oc-G1c/s1600/the+people.jpg

Credit: fergregory via Adobe Stock
Surprising Science
  • Australian scientists found that bodies kept moving for 17 months after being pronounced dead.
  • Researchers used photography capture technology in 30-minute intervals every day to capture the movement.
  • This study could help better identify time of death.
Keep reading Show less
Credit: Willrow Hood / 362693204 via Adobe Stock
13-8

The distances between the stars are so vast that they can make your brain melt. Take for example the Voyager 1 probe, which has been traveling at 35,000 miles per hour for more than 40 years and was the first human object to cross into interstellar space. That sounds wonderful except, at its current speed, it will still take another 40,000 years to cross the typical distance between stars.

Worse still, if you are thinking about interstellar travel, nature provides a hard limit on acceleration and speed. As Einstein showed, it's impossible to accelerate any massive object beyond the speed of light. Since the galaxy is more than 100,000 light-years across, if you are traveling at less than light speed, then most interstellar distances would take more than a human lifetime to cross. If the known laws of physics hold, then it seems a galaxy-spanning human civilization is impossible.

Unless of course you can build a warp drive.

Keep reading Show less

Just when the Middle Ages couldn’t get worse, everyone had bunions

The Black Death wasn't the only plague in the 1300s.

By Loyset Liédet - Public Domain, wikimedia commons
Culture & Religion
  • In a unique study, researchers have determined how many people in medieval England had bunions
  • A fashion trend towards pointed toe shoes made the affliction common.
  • Even monks got in on the trend, much to their discomfort later in life.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast