Luis von Ahn is an associate professor in computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. He is the inventor of CAPTCHA and RECAPTCHA, CAPTCHA is a annoying method used on many websites to check if a form is filled by a human, it is based on the recognition of distorted letters. RECAPTCHA is a much more interesting project, it transforms CAPTCHA in a crowdsourced books digitalization project. Instead of computer generated letters, users are asked to decode distorted words coming from old books.
In TED talk “Luis von Ahn: Massive-scale online collaboration” the researcher presented duolingo his new crowdsourcing project. The goal is to let the crowd translate wikipedia pages. I found the web site very nice and professional, it’s easy to use and you can really learn some spanish, english or german with a step-by-step approach.
I already knew many interesting crowdsourcing projects, most of them are disguised as videogames, check Reality is Broken for some examples. What I found amazing in duolingo is the idea of giving away a program to learn languages in exchange of free translations and I love the way the 2 tasks are perfectly integrated.
Watch TED talk “Luis von Ahn: Massive-scale online collaboration”