Thursday, March 11, 2010

Your help needed: who is this?

How much information is in a picture? What if you had 1000 people interpret the picture, creating that information? How about just finding out a few key pieces of information?

I once posted a "how-to" kiting video shot in Maui with an unknown rider, and heard back from the rider within a few days! That was an easy one, though - there just aren't that many kiters on Maui, and the community is closely linked. 

While on a boat in the Maldives, were were discussing how quickly we could track down someone in a picture that has a much broader search domain, and a bet evolved.

Setup: The pictures in this post were in the background of another picture (that included a kiter, of course!). They have been blown up and enhanced to better make out the relevant details. They were shot with a high resolution camera that included GPS tagging, so we know the time the picture was taken (5:07:05 PM local time - shortly before sunset), the location where it was taken (3 52.8661'0"N, 73 27.3889'0"E at sea level) and, of course, that they were taken in high resolution (4256 x 2832) so we could pull out the background.

We were discussing the power of crowd sourcing and the power and diversity of the crowd. Eventually a bet evolved: how long will it take to identify a dive shop given only some pictures? This boat is literally on the other side of the world from the US, in the South Male Atoll in the Maldives.

Here's what we know:
The pictures show the boat registration number and we have a blown up picture of presumably the dive master.

The satellite map is tagged with where the boat was seen in the South Male Atoll based on the GPS coordinates in the picture. The boat was heading north at the time and it looks like it's returning from a dive trip.

There is an MTurk job that points to this post and the associated geo-stamped pictures - assuming that information was kept in the upload - (we'll know soon enough - but the satellite picture and the coordinates in this post provide everything we need).