Crowdsourcing: the SUV map


For this week’s blog post, I choose to explore the Brian Lehrer Show and SUV map case. To me, this case is a great example of crowdsourcing, that is, using public (a large group of people) to reach a large amount of data and information.


This article discusses how Brian Lehrer sees the case of SUV map. It indicates that the feeling of “(local) community” is an important reason for audience to join the crowdsourcing activity voluntarily. I will say I agree with his opinion. Although I don’t think that the national or international audience cannot form a feeling of “community,” however, I do believe it is easier to form the “community” in local, for it is more related to audience’s daily life. Moreover, the Lehrer’s show attracted more audience’s attention during the SUV case; it seemed that “crowdsourcing” also opened a platform to let the audience and the broadcasts have a semi-symmetrical communication, and make the content of the show more “user-generated.”


Another article I find discusses about some problems that Lehrer faced when holding the SUV exercise. One of the problems is “credibility,” mentioned by Lehrer himself, which also questioned by a lot of people. From my opinion, SUV case is a “crowdsourcing of a quantitative research.” However, counting the number of the SUV in one block by many people at the same time seems not very reliable. An SUV can be driven around; a same SUV can be counted in several times by different people in a day. But I do believe this kind of crowdsourcing can be a useful reference sometimes; the online mapping (reporting violence) brought up by the Kenya lawyer can be a good example. The “online violence map” cannot be a hundred percent accurate; however, it can give audience a general idea of the issue, and helping them to prevent another tragedy happens.


The third article I find is posted in a blog of a magazine; the article talked a little about Lehrer’s SUV map case and then it started to discuss about the problem of “gas-guzzling SUV” (this phrase has also being mentioned in the official SUV map website). There are several comments under the article that replied by the reader. This article is not totally related to the SUV map, but what I find it interesting is that the “SUV crowdsourcing activity” might bring more people to discover and care about important issues (environment) that are related to their personal life (the one they didn’t care about before.)


The SUV map case is discussed by Muthukumaraswamy under the section of “Wisdom of crowds in general-interest reporting by recruiting a general audience.” I will say it is in the suitable section. However, I think the “general audience” should also be defined as the citizen who has the better technology instruments (poor people might not have a chance to become the “general audience” that mentioned in Muthukumaraswamy’s article.)



3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. luckymaggie
    Nov 15, 2010 @ 18:33:37

    I agree with you that one factor that makes contribution to Lehrer’s success is he really captures the need of the audience within local communities. Based on previous success, WNYC has been developing more crowdsourcing projects continuously and they pay more attention on local affairs. I think this is sort of small-scale “common good” seeking practice, in which the results will benefit all residents in those blocks. In addition, I also think about the digital divide in crowdsourcing online because there are people without such ICT access. From this perspective, maybe the “general audience” is not that “general” as assumed.


  2. Shine Lyui
    Nov 15, 2010 @ 23:15:26

    It is very obvious that the show used crowdsourcing as a means to attract audience. And certainly most of the crowdsourcing projects require people to have at least some access to the Internet. How do we define “general audience” then? In this case, the author viewed them as “general audience” simply because he thought they were “average people.” Is that really how you classify the audience? it seems pretty unclear to me.


  3. Carol
    Nov 19, 2010 @ 01:08:46


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