At times in life, we are all wondering what is happening in the world around us. Tragedy hits our family unit. A natural disaster leaves devastation in communities. Acts of terror are committed against innocent people.
When this happens, questions fill our minds and we search for answers. Ben Rector, a singer songwriter, encapsulates this searching in his song “When a Heart Breaks.”
This questioning and pain often times leaves us wanting to do something, anything to help.
Social media is now allowing us to do just that.
We are now able to do something in times of tragedy or even everyday life to change the world through what is known as crowdsourcing.
Crowdsourcing as defined by Merriam-Webster is “the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people and especially from the online community rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.” For a more in-depth explanation of mathematical data surrounding crowdsourcing, check out the PBS NOVA video, “Wisdom of the Crowds.”
One famous example of crowdsourcing in times of tragedy happened when Malaysia Flight 370 went missing. A company called Digital Global released satellite images of the ocean for people around the world to look through and mark anything that could hint of a plane that had crashed on a site called tomnod.com. The site crashed as people went on to do their part in helping search for evidence in the ocean of the missing plane.
Another example of this principle being used in the world is Phylo. This online game lets people help map genes for actual genetic research.
Tomnod.com and Phylo allow people to spend their time online doing good in the world.
Time is well spent and not just time lost.
Even the CIA is jumping on this idea of crowd sourcing with its Good Judgement Project. This project asks average people to help predict the likelihood of events happening in the world without the access to classified information. The predictions of all those involved is averaged and their average is sometimes 30% more accurate that the CIA.
I guess it just goes to show that we are better together than we could ever be on our own.