If you don’t already know, Jim Gray, a computer scientist and Turing Award winner has disappeared at sea on Jan 28th 2007 while solo sailing his boat on a trip to Farallon Island near San Fransisco.

His friend, Werner Vogel – Amazon’s CTO, has harnessed the help of Amazon’s Mechnical Turk to get people to search for any interesting items in a couple of satellite images. If users mark that these images are worth further investigations they will be treated as such.

You can join in and help from here.

I’ve started to help a bit, but there are a couple of things that I think are fairly easy to do and can greatly help:

  1. Image tiles that are completely blank (usually a side effect of the alignment post process of satellite imagery) should not be considered a HIT. It’s easy to check and its easy to save unnecessary clicks from people helping out.
  2. I think the tiles can be a bit bigger, thus, covering more grounds in a single HIT. Bigger tiles might also enable people to see wreckage formatioms which (god forbid) will give an indication that something has happened.

In addition to that, if the satellite images were released, I’m sure there are more than a few people with knowledge and code that can help identify some of the object automatically (I know I have more than a few such codes to identify various forms in various sizes in an image).

This might give this help a bigger boost.

I just hope Jim will be found in time.

UPDATE (2007/02/05 16:53 IST): I’m not sure if I’m suppose to publish this, but the directory in which one sees the various images in Mechnical Turk are stored in a server where you can get the satellite images broken into tiles in a big zip file. There are ~100 satellite images there. Perhaps some of you (and maybe me if I can find some time) can download it, mash it up back into one picture and run various analysis tools on it.

You can grab the images from here.

I hope it will help find Jim quicker.