Without even realizing it, you may have been part of a crowdsourced project. Any beta invite to a new web startup is like a crowdsourced effort. Remember, Google Image Labeler, a game that improved Google Image Search? Well, that too was a crowdsourced effort and you probably never realized it. Well, that in a nutshell captures the spirit of crowdsourcing. It’s a mass effect that calls upon the wisdom of the crowds to contribute to a particular situation.
Crowdsourcing has grown into a movement and its improving our lives in ways we do not realize. From medicine to search for extraterrestrial life forms, the scope is vast and exciting. The seven crowdsourcing projects are some you can immediately join – very little expertise required.
Check out our infographic on crowdsourcing for a visual explanation.
The idea behind the project is to make the journals of Charles Dickens accessible to the blind and visually impaired by using text-to-speech technologies we have today. Charles Dickens is arguably the second greatest British (and world) author after Shakespeare and his is a socially relevant bundle of literary treasure trove. The crowdsourced project has converted 30 million words in its archive into digitized speech. This page tells you how to go about it. Projects are announced on the site as soon as they come up. Community projects involving text correction projects are on and looking for volunteers.
The premise behind this crowdsourced science project could be that sometimes non-biologists and even the unscientific mind can see patterns that can escape the boffin. The ultimate objective is to create the first large-scale library of synthetic RNA designs that can help to wipe out diseases. EteRNA is an online game where the participant designs RNA sequences, the building blocks of life. Weekly contests are held and you are scored by how well your model folds and configures to the rules of synthesizes as predicted by computer models. You need to register for free to record your points.
Think Google Maps, and then think about it being editable. That’s OpenStreetMap – a free editable map of the world. You can join in and help edit the map to make it more accurate. The data is free to download under and open license. The collaborative mapping project already has and potentially could find wide uses. First, maps could be available in greater detail than ever before. The maps are created with the help of portable GPS devices, aerial photography, other free sources or simply from local knowledge. The map has 600,000 registered users and its climbing, and it has also spun off derivatives like OpenSeaMap and BusRoutes.in in my own country. FourSquare has also gone for OpenStreetMap.
reCAPTCHA is a very unique but a socially relevant crowdsourced project that works almost invisibly. Here’s what the site itself says –
Over 200 million CAPTCHAs are solved every day by people around the world. reCAPTCHA channels this human effort into helping to digitize books and newspapers. When you solve a reCAPTCHA, you help preserve literature by deciphering a word that was not readable by computers.
The project was started by Carnegie Mellon University. Each of us approximately spends 10 seconds of our time on solving a CAPTCHA. Total that with a small portion of the world population, and you can guess the man hours saved. Read the Learn More page for the exact behind the scenes working which is pretty interesting in itself.
With Social Attire we come to a more personal level even though it is a crowdsourced project. If you are an aspiring fashion designer and want to showcase your design that’s just on paper right now, try out this clothes shopping site. If you are a shopaholic, well, you will get designs that you won’t find anywhere else. It works very simply – SocialAttire.com invites designers to submit dress designs and sketches. Consumers and fellow designers vote and comment on submissions over two-week periods. The dress which receives the most votes is showcased for sale. Consumers receive fashionably original dresses, and designers get the exposure in the fashion world and a slice of the profits.
A sudden idea strikes you. Where do you put it for posterity? Put it in this site which is a crowdsourced collection of flashbulb moments from around the world. The whole idea is to capture ideas so that they are not lost and achieve the goal of 7000000000 ideas. The site has 794 so far, so it’s a long way yet. But it is an entertaining read. Plus, if you are ever short of ideas…head here.
Encyclopedia of Life is an online reference and database on all 1.9 million species currently known to science. You can join the EOL community and start contributing content and participating on the site. EOL communities are also responsible for the collections on the site. Here’s more on how you can contribute.
Remember it’s the crowd. So, these seven websites are just a fraction of the ones you can contribute to. Expect more articles as I journey into this fascinating movement. But for now enjoy our past posts on crowdsourcing too:
- Crowdfund Science Projects With RocketHub
- 5 Of The Most Successful Kickstarter Projects Ever
- 4 Interesting Photography Projects That Rely On The Power Of Crowdsourcing
- Make Extra Cash During Your Zen Time With Amazon Mechanical Turk
- 3 Sites To Make Money With Crowdsourcing Design Contests
What type of crowdsourcing project would you like to join? C’mon, say it from the top of your head. Maybe I can point you to just the project you are looking for.
Image Credit: Illustrated Montage of The Earth via Shutterstock