Blown To Bits

Who Is Sick?

Thursday, August 7th, 2008 by Harry Lewis

That’s the name of a “crowdsourcing” Web site, It’s a work in progress, so slow, but go try it. You type in a zip code and you find out the symptoms of people in your neighborhood. And the data comes from you too; you submit your observations of your own symptoms, or those of someone you know. Weird. The origin tale is peculiar too — the site’s creator waited with his sick wife for four hours in an emergency room, only to be told that she had the same symptoms as lots of other people in the area. He wouldn’t have bothered if he knew what was going around.

The site illustrates two developing trends. The ease with which mashups can be thrown together (including this one, from the Huffington Post site, with wonderful depictions of your neighbors’ political allegiances, drawn from public databases). And the ease with which we can now try to channel large numbers of voluntary, amateur observations into widely useful knowledge.

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