I live in worlds outside of this

Crowdsourcing a Crisis

Last entry I talked about the evolution of “crowdthings” – such as crowdsourcing and crowdwisdom – which bring together the vast amounts of people connected by the Internet to achieve a complex task, or even just to carry out a simple task in an unforeseen way. Now we’re seeing the power of crowdsourcing in a crisis as the online public helps out in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

How are they able to do that? The answer lies in a website called Tomnod, which allows its users to scour footage captured by satellite imaging company DigitalGlobe in a bid to locate anything that might be of interest to the search parties. Users helping with the search for flight MH370, which vanished without a trace four days ago, have the option of tagging what they think could be wreckage, life rafts, an oil slick or “anything interesting or suspicious” in 3,200 km² of satellite imagery, in which each pixel represents 50cm of space. The site gives visual examples of the items in question, in order to clue users in about what to look for.

malaysian airlines crowdsourcing YOU CAN HELP: Experts start crowdsourcing to find missing Malaysia Airlines plane.

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The Evolution of Crowdthings

“Crowdsourcing is the process by which the power of the many can be leveraged to accomplish feats that were once the province of a specialised few.” – Jeff Howe

On the Internet today, we see an awful lot of things with the word “crowd” in front of them. It makes sense – after all, the Internet is about bringing vast amounts of people together from all around the world to make new things possible. The most exciting thing about being online is seeing what innovative results can come from combining those people with the wonders of technology and a few ingenious ideas.

The word crowdsourcing itself is very much a product of the Internet age, as it was coined by Jeff Howe in a 2006 Wired magazine article, ‘The Rise of Crowdsourcing’, and later given a more refined definition in his blog. You could argue that each of the terms I discuss in this blog post is just a variant form of crowdsourcing, but I think they warrant being considered separately, because by and large they’ve evolved beyond the point where they fit Howe’s definition at the top there, and instead have taken on a life and characteristics of their own.

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February 15, 2014: truly a day for the fandom history books. Why? Because by pure serendipity, two milestone events for the fandom community have collided on the exact same day. One is “Fandompocalypse Day”, an movement to unite fans of disparate fandoms in a joint show of pride and unity; the other is the user-oriented, not-for-profit multimedia fanworks site Archive Of Our Own reaching one million published works.

ao3million-caitie

Both events celebrate the diverse and unifying nature of fandom in different ways: Fandompocalypse aims to bring the fandom movement offline with a visual display of fandom support in day-to-day life, while the “ao3million” celebrations are purely online, based around graphics, Twitter hashtags and uploading new fanworks to the site. Nevertheless, the spirit of enjoyment and sharing the fandom love is exactly the same.

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There is Hope Yet!

This evening I spent about an hour and a half at the Careers in Creative Industries event, the biggest careers event of the year relating to media and communications at Cambridge University. I’d been trying to psych myself up for this event for some time, because I knew it was supposed to involve that dreaded thing called Networking. I think networking is all well and good when you actually have something to say for yourself about who you are and what you do, but when you don’t, it becomes sort of like “Hi, my name’s Rebecca and I … er … am currently wasting your time.”

I went to a dedicated session on networking in the creative industries (specifically aimed at building up the skills needed for this event) last week, and I was less awful at it than I thought I’d be; but there’s a difference between doing roleplay exercises with a lecture theatre full of students who are exactly as clueless as you are, and staring down an aisle lined with tables manned by suited professionals trying to decide who looks least intimidating to talk to, or hanging around trying to look like you have a reason to be there while you’re waiting for a particular person to be free for you to talk with.

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One of the positive aspects of fanworks and fandom that’s often brought up in discussions is their openness to and frank celebration of romantic relationships which don’t receive much mainstream attention or exposure. Say what you want about slash fics; at least they (mostly) take queer relationships seriously and treat them as the norm rather than as sideshows or tokens. Frankly, I’d rather be the position of complaining about too many gay relationships than too few; and anyone who is upset because those relationships go against canon should really think hard about why canon relationships are so rarely queer. But anyway. I’m sure that point has been made plenty of times already far more eloquently than I ever could. In this post I wanted to bring to your attention a truly beautiful relationship (which is canon within its little odd series) which transcends notions of gender, sexuality and even humanity in the most adorable way.

squmkin

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