There’s an app that needs you: the rise of mobile crowdsourcing

From avoiding traffic jams, to analyzing pedestrian flow patterns, to finding the best public toilet in town, crowdsourcing apps are showing that many smartphones make for light work.

With thousands of mini-reports coming in from around the internet, a mosaic of information can form a larger picture that can be used for many different purposes, from meteorology to car-sharing.

Using the intelligence of a vast interconnected organism, however, is nothing new: the venerable Oxford English Dictionary may in fact be the earliest example of crowdsourcing.

In the mid-19th century it made an open call for volunteers to log words and provide examples of their usage. Over a 70-year period, it received more than six million submissions.

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