I appeared on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show yesterday. For those not in New York, WNYC is New York's premier public radio station, and Brian Lehrer hosts a daily political call-in show. (Full disclosure: My wife, Alysia Abbott, is a freelance radio producer and works for the BL Show from time to time.) Brian has had me on to discuss crowdsourcing before, but this time Brian and his team wanted to try their own crowdsourcing experiment. I was on hand to help launch the effort.
Brian is asking his listeners to count the number of SUVs vis a vis total cars on their blocks, and report the numbers back to the Brian Lehrer Show Website. This is an ideal citizen journalism project, in that it's a simple, discrete task that employs the power of a crowd without being overly reliant on its wisdom (a tougher prospect, to be sure.) And sure enough, barely 24 hours after airing, some 51 records have already been entered on the project's home page.
I know Jim Colgan, the producer who put yesterday's crowdsourcing segment together, and we spoke several days before the show about Assignment Zero and the lessons learned. What I find encouraging is that our "highly satisfying failure" is already leading to improved experiments. Jim read my assessment, and modified the Lehrer experiment accordingly. And Off the Bus, the crowdsourcing project run by AZ alums Amanda Michel, has incorporated many of those same lessons.
I'd like to wrap up this post with my own, mini-experiment. On the Lehrer show yesterday I spontaneously challenged some listener to come forward to create a GoogleMap of the SUV data once it comes in. I'd like to repeat that challenge. Anyone interested should contact me at JeffHowe at Wiredmag.com.