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SwiftRiver: Keeping Your Head Above Data

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, September 1 2010

From the folks behind the crowd-sourcing reporting system Ushahidi comes an announcement that a brand-new version of SwiftRiver has launched. SwiftWha? Here's the scoop:

SwiftRiver is an open source intelligence gathering platform for managing realtime streams of data... SwiftRiver is unique in that there is no singular ‘SwiftRiver’ application. Rather, there are many, that combine plugins, APIs and themes in different ways that are optimized for different workflows. If you’re a journalist researching different subjects you’ll probably use a different Swift App than say a crisis response organization.

In other words, we're talking about a suite of open-source tools that helps folks manage streams of data, from Twitter tweets to incoming emails to RSS feeds. But more that that, what's at issue is solving a problem that pops up in the sort of crowd-source event responses we've seen during everything from the 2008 election, in the form of the Twitter Vote Report project, to the response around the world to the earthquake in Haiti. How do you empower large numbers of people to sort through information and assess its authority in a way that is both distributed and trustworthy?

For one thing, you design it to be welcoming. As part of the beta launch of the new SwiftRiver, there's a Sweeper app, inspired, in fact, by the work done to use volunteers to geolocate and verify reports that came in from Haiti, and described this way: "This application is designed for speed and ease of use with big easy to read text, bright buttons and a very clean layout." You can check out the new SwiftRiver here.