- Free as in Smokescreen (Mike Shaver) — H.264, one of the ways video can be delivered in HTML5, is covered by patents. This prevents Mozilla from shipping an H.264 player, which fragments web video. The MPEG LA group who manage the patents for H.264 did a great piece of PR bullshit, saying “this will be permanently royalty-free to consumers”. This, in turn, triggered a wave of gleeful “yay, now we can use H.264!” around the web. Mike Shaver from Mozilla points out that the problem was never that users might be charged, but rather that the software producer would be charged. The situation today is just as it was last week: open source can’t touch H.264 without inviting a patent lawsuit.
- Crowdsourcing for Pakistan Flood Relief — Crowdflower are geocoding and translating news reports from the ground, building a map of real-time data so aid workers know where help is needed.
- Dirpy — extract MP3 from YouTube. Very nice interface. (via holovaty on Delicious)
- Three Rules of Thumb for Bloom Filters — Bloom filters are used in caches and other situations where you need fast lookup and can withstand the occasional false positive. 1: One byte per item in the input set gives about a 2% false positive rate. For more on Bloom Filters, see Maciej Ceglowski’s introduction. (via Hacker News)
How crowdsourcing affects government, research and the workforce.
In a brief Q&A, CrowdFlower founder Lukas Biewald looks at crowdsourcing's growing influence and its impact — both positive and negative — on the workforce.
H.264 Patents, Pakistan Flood Crowdsourcing, YouTube to MP3, Bloom Filter Tips
CrowdFlower's Lukas Biewald on crowdsourced work and the state of human-machine relations.
The definition of work has changed dramatically in recently years. Where jobs used to be defined by place and time, now many types of work can be tackled by anyone, anywhere. Lukas Biewald, CEO of labor-on-demand company CrowdFlower and a speaker at next month's Web 2.0 Expo in New York, is at the center of the labor shift. He discusses the pros and cons of crowdsourced labor in the following Q&A.
How can you set up crowdsourcing where most people work for free but some are paid, and present it to participants in a way that makes it seem fair? This situation arises all the time, with paid participants such as application developers and community managers, but there's a lot of scary literature about "crowding out" and other dangers. One basic challenge is choosing what work to reward monetarily. I can think of several dividing lines, each with potential problems.