The Crowd Goes Wild Over Brian Lehrer and WNYC

I found many an example of crowdsourcing on the internet. There are websites out there that are entirely built off the notion of crowdsourcing (NewAssignment.net) and others that simply have interesting components (someecards.com).

The most intriguing examples I found were case studies that fell somewhere in between – very informative yet interactive and playful.

Surprisingly enough, I discovered my favorite instance of crowdsourcing on WYNC, New York City’s NPR station. The station plays host to “The Brian Lehrer Show” – featuring Brian Lehrer himself – which focuses on national issues and links them to real-life for New Yorkers. It is an interesting beat as is, but what peaked my curiosity was the ingenuity he uses to deliver his message. On multiple occasions, Lehrer has used crowdsourcing to illustrate his point. He solicits responses and votes from his listeners and fellow New Yorkers as the base of his stories. This adds a unique level of legitimacy and relevance to his stories.

On August 2nd, 2007, he asked the question “How many SUVs are on your block?” Instead of citing data from a recent New York census or car distributor, Lehrer turned to the people. He asked them to go outside their house and count how many SUVs, as well as regular cars, were found around their house. On October 8th, he wanted to know who was getting ripped off. So he asked New Yorkers to go purchase a carton of milk, a head of lettuce, and a six-pack of beer at their local convenience store, and report back to him.

The social and economical conclusions were not the only interesting aspects of these projects. Lehrer created an interactive map to display these results. These maps added a visual element to his projects and strengthened his thesis. Users could click on specific blocks and find out exactly how many SUVs were found, or the exact price of that head of lettuce. Lehrer also encouraged users to comment on these findings, questioning the data or adding more of their own.

Crowdsourcing SUV count in New York City

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