Contextual Communication: Crowds and Coordination
Human history is punctuated by revolutions in communication. Innovations ranging from the printing press to the mobile phone continually improved our communication across space and time, culminating in the Internet Age. Itself a product of crowdsourcing, the Internet can harness a community’s ability to create and analyze data, providing us with movie suggestions, online encyclopedias, and personalized search.
Yet, these examples beg the question: how can we communicate without a pre-existing community? The winners of the DARPA Network Challenge began to answer this question by using social media to find 10 red balloons hidden across the US. But what about collaborating to find a missing child? Or coordinating a peaceful protest? Or communicating in the aftermath of a natural disaster? We are on the cusp of yet another revolution, one that could allow ad hoc communication within any crowd united by a common context. To solve this problem, we just need to rethink the way we communicate.