Last year, after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Phillippines, thousands of individuals supported relief efforts by using satellite imaging to map the devastation. Right now the same Colorado satellite imaging company is asking the public for help analyzing high-resolution images. This is a crowd-sourced attempt to locate the missing Malaysia airline flight, but it is much more than that: It is a chance to participate in a collaborative heroism.
What's collaborative heroism?
Luke Barrington, senior manager of Geospatial Big Data for DigitalGlobe explains it this way: “For people who aren’t able to drive a boat through the Pacific Ocean to get to the Malaysian peninsula, or who can’t fly airplanes to look there, this is a way that they can contribute and try to help out."1
What Mr. Barrington is really saying is that through collaborative action we can take part in the search and rescue—we can do more than be bystanders—we can use our interactive technologies to join the crew.
The age of interconnectivity is transforming our world and with it our worldview. Joseph Campbell, the well-known comparative mythologist, pointed out the important role technology—a product of culture—plays in expanding human consciousness. Interactive technologies have come to define our culture. They are the means through which we read the news, listen to music, watch TV, and play games, and as such they are the matrix in which we are evolving and cultivating new myths. Collaborative heroism is product of this evolution (Klisanin, 2013). As a construct, it helps us see how we can weave online and offline actions together and make greater strides in accomplishing noble goals.