Suppose it was your job to label pictures with descriptive tags. You’d type in things like PICNIC, LIGHTNING for a picture. Then it would be easy for someone who needs pictures of a stormy picnic to find what they needed. Labeling pictures is very hard to automate, but very useful. So suppose it was your job to label 1000 pictures. Or 100,000 pictures. Or perhaps even 3 million pictures. What would you do?
Some clever people at Carnegie Mellon have come up with a perfect Tom Sawyer hack: turn labeling pictures into a fun game, and people all over the web will spend their spare time doing it. Apparently it’s working like a charm, because they claim to have labeled more than 3 million pictures using the ESP Game. You get paired up with another person, and the object is for you to agree on a label in the shortest amount of time. In the meantime, you generate labels furiously that all get logged into a database for later consumption. Brilliant. (Thanks, Jenifer!)