OK, I’ll bite on this one. I know the guy’s probably just looking for cheap publicity, but this points out a problem. I watch almost no TV. I get news from selected, trusted places on the Web and referrals from people I trust. But I have caught a few hair-brained (or hare-brained like the bunny?) ideas for cleaning up the oil spill. Trouble when people think they’re engineers they don’t think things through. An idea that works in a five gallon bucket may not work in 240,000 square miles of open sea, for instance. So here’s a guy who wants to “crowd source” ideas to stop the leak. It’s true, sometimes you get so close to the problem that you don’t see alternative approaches. Dan, here, wants either the best or most innovative ideas. I’d go for best…

[from the press release] An Oregon technology company launched a website today to capture suggestions of the world’s best and brightest on innovative solutions for stopping BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BP has reportedly received 10,000 phone calls and 60,000 emails offering solutions since last month’s disaster. The website is intended as a vehicle to organize these ideas, through the use of “crowdsourcing”, to encourage new thinking and promote collaboration among interested people around the world. Crowdsourcing refers to the concept that the wisdom of crowds, if harnessed, can usually provide the best answer (think the “Audience” lifeline in “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”).

“We believe the answer to capping the oil spill may emerge through the collaborative efforts of disparate individuals worldwide, from every-day tinkerers to professional scientists in the farthest corners of the world,” said Dan Afrasiabi, president of Portland’s ARM Insight. “Technology allows us to invite people with different talents and ideas to jump in to this collaborative forum where every idea is welcomed.”

The site has an innovative strategy itself. Idea contributors, whether an innovative farmer in Omaha, an engineering visionary in Russia, or perhaps a high school physics teacher in Brazil, can post their ideas and all site visitors can vote for their favorite idea. The most innovative ideas then quickly rise to the top of the list because they have the most votes. Dan Afrasiabi hopes BP experts will monitor the website for the best and most innovative ideas.

“We believe that complex problems require revolutionary solutions” said Afrasiabi. “Few problems require the urgent cooperation of global brain-power in the way the oil spill crisis does. Our hope is to quickly uncover the solution to this problem and at the same time produce a wealth of ideas to prevent or minimize the effect of future accidents which are likely to occur as the global hunt for deep water sources of energy continues.”

Afrasiabi invites everyone with an idea to submit a proposal or who simply wants to vote on the ideas presented by others to visit.

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