I just spent part of an hour looking for Steve Fossett via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Fossett has been missing since he took off in a Citabria on September 3.
It was very easy. I searched about 7 square kilometers of Nevada in just 40 minutes. Here are the directions given by Amazon:
You will be shown a single satellite
image. The task is to flag any satellite images which contain foreign
objects that may resemble Steve’s airplane or parts of a plane. Steve’s
plane will show up as a regular object with sharp edges, white or
nearly white, about 21 pixels long and 30 pixels in wingspan.
If in doubt, be conservative and
mark the image. For complete coverage, we’ve set up this HIT such that
multiple people will cover the same area several times over. Please do
your best, but do not worry that missing one little detail will be
tragic. It will get caught.
Marked images will be sent to a team of specialists who
will determine if they contain information on the whereabouts of Steve
Friends and family of Steve Fossett would like to thank you for helping them with this cause.
You basically just scan, and click "yes" or "no". Here’s what the interface looks like:
Per the open source dictum that many brains make deep bugs shallow, I hope that in this case many turks make a lost plane findable. This a striking yet tragic example of the power the web has to facilitate networked collaborations of broad scale and scope. You can help here.