Hunchworks

Got a question, hypothesis or burning desire for more evidence? Hunchworks is a social network that combines the wisdom of the crowd, the knowledge of experts and the power of algorithms to enable you to make smarter decisions to solve complex human problems.

Hunchworks

What is Hunchworks?

Hunchworks is a social network specifically designed to help users collaboratively gather and rapidly verify information to make better decisions. Very often, especially during unfolding events, people witness situations or have access to information that they think may be an indicator of something significant. They may have a theory about what is happening but lack enough evidence to conclusively prove it.  Hunchworks enables people to use the power of networks to quickly gather more evidence and receive feedback from other users about the validity of their theories or “hunches”. It also provides tools for users to quickly share, analyze and visualize data as it becomes available.

How does it work?

When a user first joins Hunchworks, he or she creates a profile. The profile includes information about their interests, professional background and skills. Once users have a profile, they can find and connect with people who have complementary interests and skills and are free to follow other users’ activity and create or join groups. Groups can be public or private and allow hunches to be shared within existing teams or with new ones based on subject matter, geography or any other criteria.

A new hunch consists of:

  1. a title
  2. a summary
  3. a detailed description
  4. keyword tags
  5. location information
  6. one or more pieces of evidence

There are three types of hunches:

  1. public which means that anyone may view it
  2. private which means that the title and some of the information about the hunch is publicly available but the data and conversations are accessible by invitation only
  3. secret which means that the hunch is not visible in this system and may only be accessed with the express permission of the creator.

After a hunch is created, the creator may share it with specific groups or individuals. These users are able to contribute to the hunch by rating it via a confidence score, commenting on it, rating the credibility of the evidence or adding new evidence. Evidence types include photos, videos, sound files, web pages, eyewitness accounts or data sets. Users are able to rate any contributions that are introduced into the hunch.

All of this activity generates a hunch confidence score that reflects the contributors’ assessments of the hunch and associated evidence. Once the creator feels that the hunch is sufficiently verified or refuted by the community, he or she may opt to close the hunch, create a report from the comments and evidence, and archive it.

Trust is very important when sharing information and Hunchworks helps users to understand who they can trust by creating individual reputation scores that are a reflection of past behavior in the network. Providing valuable feedback on other people’s hunches, creating useful hunches and sharing credible data increase reputation in the system. Destructive or manipulative behavior causes reputation scores to drop.

What else does it do?

Data Management
Commonly, people stumble on various pieces of information that they think may be important prior to formulating a hunch or that they think may be useful to others. All too often, these important data points can be easily lost in a deluge of information. Hunchworks provides a central place where data can be uploaded and tagged for later integration into hunches and discovery and use by other members of the Hunchworks network. The network in turn may provide valuable feedback about the credibility of data and enter into discussions about its relevance. Like hunches, users can choose whether their data is public, private or hidden.

Tools
Hunchworks provides a variety of tools to help users clean, analyze and visualize data. Some of these are being developed by Change Assembly and others will be licensed from commercial vendors and made available through the platform. Examples include software for social media trend analysis, text mining, mapping, data visualization and fusion.

Who should use Hunchworks?

Hunchworks offers value to anyone who wishes to be able to combine ground-level reporting with global networks of analysts.  It offers a unique way to leverage human experience and knowledge to filter real-time and big data rapidly and at scale. Examples of sectors that will benefit from Hunchworks include emergency management and disaster response, international development, research and academe, media and journalism, conflict early warning, public policy and business intelligence.

What sort of system is Hunchworks?

Hunchworks will be developed as a free and open source technology platform. Organizations will be able to deploy Hunchworks on their own hardware and behind their own firewalls. Federated architecture will allow information sharing between different Hunchworks deployments, with adjustable settings to protect privacy and sensitive data.

Additional functionality will be enabled by extensible modules.

A website with a commercial subscription version of Hunchworks will be available for users who do not wish to go to the expense of setting up their own Hunchworks deployment.

Where did Hunchworks come from?

Hunchworks was first conceived at the United Nations Global Pulse’s first PulseCamp event in December 2010: a team there loosely identified the requirements and user interfaces for a hunch-style tool, using existing ideas as a baseline.

The ideas behind the Hunchworks platform were then expanded and prototyped at Random Hacks of Kindness New York 2010 by a team of Thoughtworks, Google and UN Global Pulse developers.

Adaptive Path offered their services to develop designs for Hunchworks in 2011, creating user experience sketches and ideas for a tool that is both useful and usable by UN and related staff.  The design was developed further by a team at the School for Visual Arts, supported by members of the original Adaptive Path team.

Hyperakt donated their time to develop the Hunchworks brand.

The UN Global Pulse developers and an open-source volunteer team (through a series of Monday-evening codejams) continued to develop Hunchworks until Fall 2011.  UN Global Pulse, while interested in testing and applying Hunchworks in the field, decided not to lead further development and Change Assembly was established in July 2012 to keep the platform alive.

Change Assembly has modified the design and is developing a new codebase which will be made available to beta testers in December 2012.