I’ve been following the development of the Swiftriver initiative with great interest over the past year. For those who don’t know what it’s about: They are tackling the same problem that I have to deal with in my research, i.e. the increasing amounts of social media data or information, and the need to filter, tag and validate it in order to be able to use it. While crowdmapping platforms such as Ushahidi currently rely on enthusiastic volunteers to curate the data (such as the Stand By Task Force), this approach will (in my humble opinion) break down in the foreseeable future. We need some automatic pre-selection and tagging, so that only the difficult (ambigous) cases are curated by humans.
That being said, the Swiftriver approach shows immense promise. However, I wonder what will happen to this project now that the Director Jon Gosier and Lead Developer Matthew Griffiths both embark on to new projects (here’s the Ushahidi blog post, and here’s Jon’s). I have no inside knowledge on this, since I have only tried out part of the platform (the Sweeper app) and engaged in some interesting discussions with Jon and Matthew on the Swiftriver google group. With this limited knowledge of mine, I am afraid I cannot share Jon’s optimism for the future of Swiftriver. While it is certainly impressive and fascinating what has been achieved already, there is still a lot of work to do before the platform is close to being operational. I sincerely hope that the community behind Swiftriver and the new partnerships mentioned by Jon are indeed already strong enough to support the project in the future.