Media crowdsources, live blogs, crosses fingers over Palin's e-mails

Media organizations attempt to use any technological means possible to bring you details of e-mails Sarah Palin wrote years ago. Overkill, perhaps?

I suppose, if you were of charitable mind, you could think of it as an in-depth analysis of the currently unemployed.

But isn't there something in itself entertaining about the relentless, breathless, technologically boundless pursuit for nuggets of joy from the collected digital works of Sarah Palin?

Should you have unaccountably lost several of your faculties and had to advertise for their recovery on Craigslist, you might not have noticed that Alaska has released 24,199 pages of e-mails sent by and to the state's former governor.

These seem to signify that she spent 38 digital pages a day communicating with others over electronic lines. But was there even a chance that within these e-mails someone, somewhere, would find an explosive statement that would, say, change world politics, world economics, even world gossip?

Perhaps some speck of gold will still be found, as the electronic analysis continues through live blogs and even crowdsourcing.

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Some might find it odd which organizations have embedded themselves deeply into the crowdsourcing phenomenon.

The New York Times is at the forefront, with a headline that reads "Help Us Review the Sarah Palin Email Records."

This might seem, to some, like an invitation to be an entertainment reviewer. Yet the skirts of this enterprise's subtleties are revealed a little when you read the actual Times URL: "Help Us Investigate the Sarah Palin Email Records."

So just as you committed yourself to being A.O. Scott, you suddenly realized, seated in your little garret in Wisconsin, that your real purpose was to be Woodward and Bernstein.

I mean, what do these people want? Do they want witty commentary about Palin's cheery predilection for exclamation points? Or do they want you to dig up some grimy nugget of dirt that will somehow put the former governor out of work? Wait a minute, what does she do again?

A New York Times spokeswoman, Eileen Murphy, told Fast Company that this was not some first-time experiment in using the populace to contribute to news-gathering.

"The Times invited readers to review and comment on Geithner's schedule...And help complete Michelle Obama's genealogical chart," she said. "What some people don't seem to understand is that we're not doing this in place of our own reporting, we're doing it in addition to our own reporting."

Indeed. But some might think that the subjects chosen for the employment of express people power are a little idiosyncratic. Others might simply avow that technology now throws up vast amounts of information that no single human--no small and ever-dwindling group of humans--can possibly embrace.

However, this amount of scrutiny suggests that someone, somewhere believes that Palin represents the continual potential for major influence on the future of the world. Either that, or, for some, she serves as a focal point for the expression of more personal emotions. You know, the slightly nasty teenage kind.

How soon before we have full-scale crowdsourcing of the past e-mails of every public figure from Anthony Weiner to Mitt Romney to, um, Arnold Schwarzenegger? Just think of what the people might dig up. Just think of the wonderful array of attachments that might be found therein.

Perhaps this is just the world we live in, one in which we're desperate to catch someone out for something to make ourselves feel a little better about the fact that we don't like ourselves terribly much.

Still, come on, people. A live blog? This isn't Steve Jobs announcing a new iPad, you know.

 

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