All posts by sjvadeno

Crowdsourcing to the Stars and Beyond: The Galaxy Zoo

This blog has already seen many purposes for the combined skills of many, from disaster relief to technological innovation. But is it also possible to crowdsource scientific advancement? The “Zooniverse” is a group of “citizen science projects”, hosting dozens of projects enabling volunteers to participate in scientific research. It consists of more than 1 million registered volunteers, generally referred to as ‘Zooites’. The data collected from the various projects has already led to the publication of more than 50 scientific papers!

It all started in 2007, when the first Galaxy Zoo project was launched. The Sloan Digital Sky Survey provided Chris Lintott, an astronomer at Oxford, with a dataset of a million galaxies. All these galaxies needed to be sorted according to their shape and features. This proved to be simple in terms of task, but monstrous in terms of scale for just Chris and a single graduate student. It also proved difficult to be done reliably by a computer, as computers could not detect subtle differences and similarities or things that simply looked “interesting.” Soon, they came up with the idea of having volunteers do it. The idea proved more popular than they could have imagined, and the classifications made by the volunteers turned out to be as good as they would’ve been had they been done by professional astronomers. Moreover, as many participants rate the same galaxies, the data is cross-validated on the go: the goal is to have each individual galaxy rated by 30 users.

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TripCase: Pro versus #ShouldBEaThing

Sabre is an innovative American company focusing on technological solutions for the airline industry. In the past, it was mainly focused on a reservation system, but it has been branching out into other solutions, such as their travel itinerary app TripCase. TripCase allows users to save their travel itineraries in the app by either forwarding the tickets or looking up the information by reservation numbers. The app then displays relevant information to the trip, such as gate or time changes, local weather reports, opportunities to gain extra miles by using particular car rental companies or hotels, alternative flight options, social media sharing buttons and so on. The app is often praised for its speedy updates and smooth, intuitive interface without obnoxious advertisements.

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The Dating Ring – Supply and demand in modern times?

Crowdfunding has made the news from time to time as people sought out sponsors for controversial initiatives, and matchmaking CEO Lauren Kay recently added an interesting project to that list. Dating Ring is a brand new start up, which began with a dating agency in New York and soon expanded their services to in San Francisco. Potential candidates sign up for their services, after which they are invited to group dates of four to six people. Each candidate pays $20 for a date. The agency likens this process to meeting through friends – ‘but much, much better,’ according to their website.

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