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Crowdsourcing Analysis of the Palin Email Trove 284

itwbennett writes "Surely you've got better things to do this weekend than read 24,000 pages of Sarah Palin's email. But just in case you don't, the NY Times is looking for volunteers to help 'identify interesting and newsworthy e-mails, people and events that we may want to highlight.' And, for your easy reference, MSNBC has posted the complete collection online."
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Crowdsourcing Analysis of the Palin Email Trove

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  • volunteers? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by waddgodd ( 34934 ) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @11:25AM (#36411118) Homepage Journal

    So wait, we're supposed to do analysis for free for the NYT, which will then hide said work behind their paywall? Yeah, suuuure.

    • Re:volunteers? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @11:30AM (#36411158)

      My thoughts exactly.
      Why would I want to do this, only to lose access to my own work.
      If they made the articles generated by this work under some sort of copyleft I might be interested.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )
      If information wants to be free, why should they have to pay you for finding it?
      • Re:volunteers? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @02:03PM (#36412304) Homepage Journal

        Information wants to be free. Services do not.

    • Re:volunteers? (Score:5, Informative)

      by duguk ( 589689 ) <dug@frag. c o .uk> on Saturday June 11, 2011 @11:50AM (#36411306) Homepage Journal
      Thankfully, The Guardian (UK) [] are doing the same thing. Dug
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by makubesu ( 1910402 )
      Yeah who would ever do a detailed analysis just to have it put behind a pay wall? Now if you'll excuse me, I have a journal article I'm working on...
    • by rust ( 117571 )

      The NYT paywall doesn't work - as a page loads in Firefox, I just hit 'stop' after the page loads and before the popup 'You are over your 20 article limit' shows up, and I can read anything i want.

      Works all the time, mildly annoying but trivial to defeat their idiotic 'paywall'.

      • My hometown paper just implemented a paywall. It's a joke to get around. I just created a new AdBlock rule that blocked the dev id.

      • Just delete the NT cookie and you're ok.

      • The NYT paywall doesn't work - as a page loads in Firefox, I just hit 'stop' after the page loads and before the popup 'You are over your 20 article limit' shows up, and I can read anything i want.

        Works all the time, mildly annoying but trivial to defeat their idiotic 'paywall'.

        My hack: Use Firefox in Private Browsing mode, don't log in if you have an account, and restart FF whenever you start getting the popup. You can do this with Chrome in incognito mode as well, but Chrome incognito mode disables all browser plugins where FF private mode does not. The only inconvenience is having to restart the browser once in however long it takes you to hit the limit. (BTW, the poster below who who said "delete the cookie" is also correct, that is effectively all this is doing, I just fi

        • Chrome incognito mode disables all browser plugins

          This is actually not the case. Go to Tools, Extensions and then click "Allow in incognito".

    • by CODiNE ( 27417 )

      I'd love it if everyone contributed to OpenStreetMap instead of Google Map Maker, but the one who makes the easiest to use interface and has all the marketing $$ often snags the willing participants. Especially something as time critical as this, first mover advantage is pretty important.

    • Sheeple crowd-source most of their opinions. This is just a more open and focused example.
    • Right or wrong, I've long ago made up my mind that Palin is a skanky ole ho, who is just getting by on her history as a beauty queen. I've not read anything to make me like her, and I've read plenty to make me dislike her.

      I can't see that sifting through her emails is going to improve my opinion of the ole ho. Like most other people, I'll just interpret the crap I find to reinforce my current opinion.

      'Course, most other people can't admit that they'll do that, LMAO!!

    • Nope.

      You publish it on your no-name blog first, then you get the delicious protections of the new copyright regime!

      (That is, until they cheat again.)

  • No thanks (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dyinobal ( 1427207 ) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @11:51AM (#36411318)
    No thanks I'm pretty sure reading Sarah Palin's emails would lower my IQ by a factor of ten.
  • by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @11:52AM (#36411324)
    And people care about some moron congressman tweeting his penis and dumb Sarah Palin. Glad to know the media is focusing on what is important.
    • There are thousands of reporters and millions of readers, all interested in and doing different things. Further, some people are able to keep multiple thoughts in their head at the same time, so it's okay to focus on more than one thing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      And people care about some moron congressman tweeting his penis

      Actually, Wiener's wiener just amused me.

      On the other hand, the lying and false accusations that he made the first week bothered me more than a little.

    • by quantaman ( 517394 ) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @02:01PM (#36412294)

      The problem with Palin is a lot of people take her very seriously despite an absurd number of warning signs to the contrary. And if the media didn't keep jumping on her scandals and missteps in the past she very well could still be considered a contender for the Republican nomination. Sometimes these media scandals are just a distraction from important issues, but other times they're a chance to say "hey, that person you've been praising as the second coming? Well here's yet another piece of evidence that they're complete nutjob, now go back and think about why you were such an idiot before".

      Sure, most of her followers won't get the message, but a few will, and the world will be that much wiser for it.

    • Get over it.

      This is why this whole Palin frenzy is so damn distressing. She isn't even declared as a candidate for the next election yet it seems as if the line to be part of the character assassination just continues to grow. This is like taking the worst aspects of Reality TV and having the press and politicians play the parts.

      If they even tried this with Obama there would be lines of people screaming racism. That alone allows Libya to continue and Yemen to be next. I wonder how many years after Obama lea

      • by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @03:04PM (#36412632)

        I understand that you hate Obama (and probably all Democrats,) but your point seems to be mostly irrational.

        She isn't even declared as a candidate for the next election yet it seems as if the line to be part of the character assassination just continues to grow.

        Maybe it's because there's a large, idiotic segment of the population that does want her as president. And people want to see exactly how (un)ethical of a person she is before they try to put her manipulative ass in the White House. That they've taken great pains to ensure that these e-mails are difficult to get and stripped of useful information, I suspect they've worked very hard to hide things.

        If they even tried this with Obama there would be lines of people screaming racism.

        Why? Official e-mails are part of the public record. The reason people are all over this is because of the deliberate actions taken to make these records hard to get.

        I have no sympathy for Palin. She's manipulative, power hungry, and has show no evidence that she would be remotely capable of handling the role of the Presidency. She killed McCain's run, simply due to the fear that if anything happened to him, she'd end up in the hot seat.

    • Why is the war in Libya illegal? I understand why the war in Iraq is illegal, but when did the UN stop sanctioning action in Libya? [No sarcasm, I'm genuinely interested.]

      Did a quick Google search: is this to what you are referring? []

      • Why is the war in Libya illegal? I understand why the war in Iraq is illegal, but when did the UN stop sanctioning action in Libya? [No sarcasm, I'm genuinely interested.]

        The UN does not make War legal in America. The Congress does. Obama didn't even consult Congress before sending in troops. On the other hand, Iraq is 100% totally legal (even with the UN, since the war was actually started in the 1990's, and Saddam never stopped firing on our troops).

  • Did the NYTimes put out the same crowdsourcing call for various Wikileaks docs?

    Also, is there any particular reason Palin's emails have been released? Do all governors' emails get released? (Don't know.) And George W's?

    • Palin's emails got released as there is little damage they can do. In fact they would probably be beneficial as a distraction from the exposure of the paranoid power tripping delusional fraction of 1% of the population messing with the 7 billion rest of us that not only Wikileaks helps to expose but got and getting a verifying reaction of these psychological handicap in need of constraints from their positions of command.
  • I can't wait for people to cite these e-mails as evidence of wrongdoing on her part just because they were released. Look what happened when Tennessee State Representative Mike Kernell's son hacked Sarah Palin's e-mail account []. To this day, people claim that David Kernell's hack proved wrongdoing on Palin's part, even after Kernell told 4chan that he DIDN'T find anything interesting.
  • Need I say more?
    • Grep works when you know what you're looking for. Doing any sort of semantic knowledge discovery might require more effort in annotating and organizing the data.
  • by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @12:10PM (#36411474)

    The reason it took them 3 years to release the emails is it took that long to screen out all the damaging material. Palin switched to her private email accounts for all the juicy stuff and she was pretty disciplined about it on top of that. We've got some indications of conversations since emails to those accounts both from and to official aides have been released. I heard on the news last night from the Mother Jones reporter who initiated the email request that stuff like conversations with Cheney and "Same Sex" thread have been completely redacted.

    You think they'd wait 3 years, dump the emails ONLY to printed paper, redact the hell out of the content, and charge people if they *really* wanted to give you access?

    • From looking at just a few emails, it seems like absolutely everything of interest is redacted. One that comes to mind is an email detailing a set of campaign plans. The moment the writer gets to a bulleted list (I think), everything from then on out is redacted.

      And so yes, this is a completely pointless exercise, and nothing will likely come out of it except putting Palin back in the spotlight.

      • It sounds like we need a hacker to obtain the originals, and then do a diff comparison with the redacted list to automatically glean the parts of emails with any value.

  • What surprises me is that it's been almost a day and we don't have a giant first page headlines "WE CONFIRMED SHE IS EVIL! Email details ... ". Nothing beyond regular (and sometimes understandable) stuff.

    Which probably will result in more conspiracy theory to the tune of "Well we know She's Evil, it's just only those months of emails that weren't released must contain the Pure Evilness!", which is kinda silly.

    I think every governor should have emails released, frankly, before he/she leaves office. The whole

  • Maybe I missed something somehow but is there a reason there's a desire to peruse through these records? If there's an investigation going on then it's not my job. If there isn't then it's none of my damned business and I have better shit to do with my time than be a voyeur to someone like Palin. Send this waste of time to the tabloids.

    • Because she was an elected public official and these are official public records?

      An unwillingness to examine the job that your government is doing will be the death of us. /frank

      p.s. I completely agree with you if this had been a hacked personal email dump - that kind of thing is none of my business. Unless, of course, she we doing government business over her personal email, in which case I consider those to be official public records also.

      • by halivar ( 535827 )

        Except it's not my government, since I don't live in Alaska (or anywhere near it). Now why should I care?

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @01:33PM (#36412096) Journal
    While I find the farce surrouding the opposing forces of Palin's cult of personality and those who simply cannot stomach her and will dig through anything to justify that to be tedious and misguided, we should not let that distract us from the potential real issues at play here.

    Alaska is, perhaps uniquely among American states in the present day(with the possible exception of the poorer; but much more overtly corrupt Appalacian coal belt), a state with an immensely lucrative extraction-economy, and not too much else going on. This means that there is considerable money to be made in controlling pipeline contracts and routes, security assorted extraction licenses, controlling obscure planning offices, and other tedious activity in sparsely settled areas. Although much more scenic than most, and often less violent, this does leave it open to many of the same dysfunctional political dynamics enjoyed by the poor nations who have large mineral reserves and weak governance.

    We shouldn't forget that. It doesn't matter what the contents of Palin's Office Yahoo Account tell us about who popped out out a baby when. Sordid trailer-park drama? probably, but who cares? However, it is generally the case that, behind every folksy politician who is bored by the details, lurks a small army of value-rational and detail-oriented hatchetmen quietly cleaning up the spoils. Sometimes, if the local cult of personality is strong enough, they are in thrall of that politician. In other cases, the politician is their frontman. In either case, though, their activities are the stuff that desperately needs as much sunlight(and cell space) as the public can devote to it. Don't let the personality drama get in the way.
  • by slapout ( 93640 ) on Saturday June 11, 2011 @02:00PM (#36412290)

    "Sarah Palin's emails have created more jobs than the last $2 trillion in federal stimulus." -- David Burge

  • "crowd-sourcing" this is a gimmick. There's only 24k pages and they've already been scanned. OCR them and run them through some decent e-discovery software - maybe do some concept searching, sentiment analysis. Crowd-sourcing will get you attention, but it's a slow way to get to the goodies.
  • Don't expect anything to come from "Crowdsourcing", as they've made it nearly impossible to navigate.

    For instance, you cannot go to a document at random, you have to page through the entire collection 10 links at a time. Sure, I'll be happy to hit "NEXT" 200 times and wait 5 seconds each to get somewhere in the middle because my time isn't valuable and I'm happy to give it to the NYT.

    Some of us geeks have experience in getting redacted information out of documents, and there would be quite a bit of motivati

I've got a bad feeling about this.