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Swine Flu -- Experts or Crowdsourcing?

Google has drawn a lot of attention for presenting a map of the swine flu outbreak. (It has received more than 1.2 million hits.) Some reports suggest this map has been more popular than maps presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I was surprised to see the Google map because the company has always maintained it is in the content organization business and not the content creation business. Turns out I was wrong in thinking the map had been created by Google as a public service.

This opinion piece argues that the easy accessibility and visual appeal of the Google map have led people away from the data presented at the CDC website and at PandemicFlu.gov. More troubling, it argues that a lack of editing oversight has produced numerous errors in the Google map -- which actually turns out not to be a map created by Google at all.

What do you think? Does crowdsourcing have a useful role to play in disease outbreaks, or does it mostly hype inaccurate information and spur panic?

By Shankar Vedantam  |  May 4, 2009; 2:54 PM ET
Categories:  New Cases , Opinions , Rumors  
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Next: Maryland Has New 'Suspicious' Flu Cases

Comments

SWINE FLU UPDATE

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Posted by: SexismSucks | May 4, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

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