22 April 2009

Mobile news in Africa

From TED: Erik Hersman presents on Ushahidi, a GoogleMaps mashup that allowed Kenyans to report on violence via cell phone texts following the 2007 elections. The tool has evolved and is now used in DR Congo etc.

Hersman goes on to explain that the ability for the broad public to generate information via the mobile phone is already creating more noise than people can handle: witness the overload of Twitter entries during and after the Mumbai shootings.

What I find most interesting in this short item is how local African developers are building a filter to turn crowd-sourced information into ranked 'truth'. A major weakness in socially-sourced information is misinformation and inaccuracy (as opposed to the reliability of professional, commercial media!). The idea is that users rank information so that you can tell what is really true.

For sure, some form of ranking and filtering is needed, but will this simply mean that the most popular version of events becomes the accepted reality?