Distributed media allows for a completely open process of continuous collaboration in the production of information, as opposed to centralized and decentralized forms of media, which rely heavily on dissemination. Collective intelligence is the default form of participation of said distributed networks and allows for mass participation on a vast scale.
In November of 2000, NASA configured a Web site called Clickworkers, asking for amateurs to assist in the mapping of the surface of Mars. The site provided a tutorial on how to classify Martian craters and identify them on photos of Mars. NASA then aggregated this data to produce a ‘Martian-crater map’.
Whilst there was no financial payment for participants, over a hundred thousand people took part, accumulating more than 2.4 million identifications of the craters. The collective product of the amateurs was said to have been “virtually indistinguishable from that of a geologist with years of experience in identifying Mars craters.”
NASA’s crowdsourcing project sought to examine whether distributed volunteers were able to collectively perform mass image analysis. The project and results make evident, the power of collective intelligence and furthermore, citizen journalism and participation, in order to produce credible content.