Procrastinators with a computer (or 'Citizen Scientists' as the project calls them) can go to the National Geographic website and scan high-resolution satellite photos, tagging interesting features like roads, rivers, ancient structures, and modern features. Lin explains how it works:
The interface is easy and fun to use, and it's fascinating to see the variety of Mongolian landscapes: deserts, deep forests, rivers, steppe. There's plenty of empty images but a surprising number of features to find. So far 16,000 volunteers have placed over one million tags on 785,000 image tiles. That's several years of drudgery, virtually for free. Go over to NatGeo and check it out!
The key to getting good results with crowdsourcing is repetition. The 'average' person doesn't spot everything, but show the same image to a hundred people and their cumulative responses will catch almost everything. Once interesting features are identified, the research team is using a host of high-tech contraptions - including electro-resistive tomography, ground-penetrating radar, and a remote-controlled, six-blade helicopter (!) - to ground truth them.
|The 'hexacopter', probably the most ridiculously high-tech archaeology gadget ever (Nat Geo)|