All credit to the Guardian which today launched a web application which had been built in the space of about a week, allowing its audience to collaborate with its journalists in analysing the newly released MP expenses documents. Charles Arthur explains how they did it here.
18 June 2009
This is absolute genius and in a short space of time tens of thousands of pages have been reviewed and the interesting ones flagged.
Crowdsourcing is a tried and tested Web 2.0 technique for analysing data and producing content cheaply and quickly - arguably the comments feature on every website is a method of crowdsourcing content as much as it is about providing a feedback mechanism. But it is surely a first in the UK that a major media outlet has put so much reliance on the good judgment of its readership and in relation to such a major story.
Maybe next year, we could each read a single page of the budget report and flag up whether there in anything interesting in it?
On a professional level, I have used litigation databases which rely on large sets of documents being profiled through a web interface - but the lesson of the Guardian's experiment is surely that by directing the analysis and keeping it very simple (with a very friendly user-interface) you can sort through masses of data very quickly.