Nerval's Lobster writes: Much has been made in recent years about the “power of crowds,” or having groups unite in a collective “hive mind” to solve particularly vexing problems. Ten thousand brains are better than one, after all. Crowdsourcing might work for something like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk), a marketplace that unleashes crowds onto gargantuan-yet-repetitive tasks in exchange for small fees; it might prove a fantastic tool for Kaggle.com, which lets organizations and individuals post data problems to a massive community of analysts and scientists. But there’s also a point when crowdsourcing veers into the madness of crowds. With emotions high in the hours and days following the bombing, hundreds of people took to Reddit’s user-generated forums to pick over images from the crime scene. Could a crowd of sharp-eyed citizens uncover evidence of the perpetrators? No, but they could definitely focus attention on the wrong people. “Though started with noble intentions, some of the activity on reddit fueled online witch hunts and dangerous speculation which spiraled into very negative consequences for innocent parties,” read an April 22 posting on Reddit’s official blog. “The reddit staff and the millions of people on reddit around the world deeply regret that this happened.”
"Card readers? We don't need no stinking card readers."
-- Peter da Silva (at the National Academy of Sciencies, 1965, in a
particularly vivid fantasy)