Online collaboration projects are skyrocketing. Most of them you probably did not even know. And some of them you are supporting without even realizing it. Millions of people are collaborating to improve our world and change the way we play, learn and work.
Did you know we built the pyramids of egypt, the panama canal and put a man on the moon all with collaborative groups of approximately 100,000 people? That number is not accidental. That number is the limit with which groups can work with each other. But can you imagine what we can do with a group of a million people? More than that would be historically impossible unless we find new ways to collaborate. When we think of collaboration some us might think of simple tools that help us with cooperation but there are a few projects that stand out of the crowd. This type of web based collaboration is also known as crowdsourcing or using the wisdom of the crowd. In this article we zoom in to the most eye catching crowdsourcing programs of the last few years.
The following massive scale online collaboration projects depend on a large number of users. Some of these examples will change the world and the way technology is being developed and others are commercial initiatives that will have an impact about how services and products are developed worldwide. Part of the inspiration for this article is this Ted Talk on online collaboration.
1.Image recognition with ESP Game
Recognizing images is typically something that computers cannot do properly. By playing the ESP games this problem is slowly solved. Players are automatically teamed in pairs of 2 and they need to find a correct tag for an image, once both users have agreed upon a tag they win. Over the years millions of images were collected and tagged. The games have specific rule sets that allow databases to enrich existing image data. Large groups of people collaborate to let system recognize images better.
2.Translating books with reCAPTCHA’s
Who does not know those annoying captcha’s? You are asked to enter a messy code into a field to prove you are human. But did you ever notice that the reCAPTCHA’s are almost always made up of real words? If you enter the words then you are actually helping with a project to digitalize old books! Old or antique books are very hard to read by computerized systems. There is an error rate of 30%. If you use these recaptcha’s you are actually helping to digitize those books. And this is going at an astonishing rate with 1.2 billion captcha entries per day.
3.Translating the web with duolingo
Computeres are becoming very intelligent. But they cannot do everything. One thing computers cannot do is accurately translating a phrase. Have you ever typed something in Google translate and the outcome turned out to be completely different? Translate all sentences of a language would cost millions of dollars. Only translating wikipedia for 80% into Spanish would cost about 500$ million. Let alone how much the translation of the entire web in all languages of the world would cost. Duolingo aims to translate the entire web. They have invented a method in which participants learn a language in exchange for their help with the project. So with this project you are learning and collaborating online at the same time.
4.Most wikipedia projects depend on collaboration online
Wikipedia depends heavily on the content and translations of users. Large groups of users collaborate to enter texts and check each other.
5.Facebook translations and location tagging
Facebook aims to translate all their pages in all languages. This task is not easy and very time consuming. Apart from the professional translators they work with, they are asking users to translate parts of the page. Unfortunately there is nothing in return for users so the popularity of this online collaboration program is not so high. Location tagging is another thing facebook needs users for.
6.Helping Google get the best search results
Daily we are all helping Google to present us the most relevant search results. How? Google measures how many people click on which result if you search for something. By large numbers of SEO specialists it is assumed that this clickrate is a ranking factor and Google uses that to rank sites either higher or lower.
7. Product development for Lego