Journalists, brands and others who wish to maximise the potential of the social web face two major challenges:
- How to listen to many voices from disparate sources (information overload)
- Who should be listened to – in particular when some are anonymous / using pseudonyms (identity and trust)
Ushahidi, at the global forefront of crowd-sourcing information in times of tension, is testing out new open source software to help deal with trust issues arising from an in-flow of data from a plethora of sources via multiple platforms. (For more background on this, watch this video from the Clinton Global Initiative 2010 Technology session).
Swiftly from ‘Swiftriver’ is a platform that aims to enable the collation and organisation of real time data using a combination of algorithms and human intervention.
For example, if someone posts information about a crisis the platform can rank it according to how geographically close that person is to the subject they are reporting on – and according to how reliable that source is known to be. It thus allows users to add ‘elusive context (location, historical data) and history (reputation of sources) to online research’.
Clearly such capabilities are appplicable beyond developing world and crisis contexts – to all those where listening, utilising and responding to social media commentary is valuable.