Sunday, August 16, 2009

Crowdsourcing Glitches

I'm interested in the possibility of destroying data through natural processes. I've already explored this a bit with Future Fragments, where quotes from friends were carried in their pockets and destroyed over the period of a summer.

Another interesting system that naturally destroys information over time is the human mind (memory). Consider the possibility of crowdsourcing distortion: for example, with Mechanical Turk, create a task that plays a subset of a song that the worker is then asked to repeat. These responses are then averaged to create an approximation of the original tune.

This task takes advantage of our ability to hear melodies. We can also treat the mind as a more generic digital signal processor: ask each worker to recall the midi pitches of each note. Or better: portions of the mp3 encoded audio in hex. Besides the auditory system, we can also take advantage of the visual system. Ask each worker to recall and draw the audio signal (at a sufficient scale).

These tasks would be especially interesting in the case of people like Ben Pridmore, who is able to quickly memorize large amounts of data (e.g.: 364 playing cards in 10 minutes). I imagine his memory slowly degrades. It'd be great to see what a compressed image looks like that is memorized slightly incorrectly, and watch it degrade over time.

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