Crowd-Sourced Intelligence Agency

Web-based, crowd-sourced social media intelligence gathering, 2015

Derek Curry & Jennifer Gradecki (US)

07.08.15 – 01.11.15

Crowd-Sourced Intelligence Agency

Crowd-Sourced Intelligence Agency is an interactive artwork that allows participants to perform the role of an intelligence analyst through an online interface. By replicating some of the known data-mining processes used by intelligence agencies, participants can monitor social media and evaluate the potential threat of posts that have been algorithmically flagged as suspicious in nature.

The visitor, or volunteer analyst, can catalogue Twitter posts as threatening, non-threatening, or flagged for review by other agents, and can enter notes explaining their decision. When a post has been evaluated, all of the information is entered into a database and is open for review and comments. The Twitter user that originally posted the evaluated tweet is notified, provided with a link to the post on the Crowd-Sourced Intelligence Agency site, and is also free to comment on the decision of the analyst.

Additionally, the interface allows participants to view the Freedom of Information Act files and leaked documents that comprise the mosaic of information the project is based on, opening a small window into the secret realm of intelligence gathering.


Derek Curry is a Ph.D. candidate in Media Studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Derek’s dissertation research focuses on algorithmic modes of control, particularly in electronic stock exchanges. Derek’s art practice engages questions of agency and knowledge production through a variety of mediums from video games and data analytics to participatory performance and sculptural data visualisations.

Jennifer Gradecki is also a Ph.D. candidate in Visual Studies at State University of New York at Buffalo. Jennifer’s research and practice focuses on the relationship between information and power, and aims to make specialised knowledge and technical information more accessible.

Q and A

What are the geographic coordinates of your favourite secret place?

36.2681° N, 117.5917° W

What kinds of private information do you think will be valuable in 2050?

We have no idea what 'private' will even mean in 2050, although we imagine that stricter laws defining what is and isn't private may have been created by then. Some of the most valuable information to both intelligence agencies and stock traders right now is public. Today, financiers use predictive analytical algorithms to make money, and by 2050, intelligence agencies will most likely use them to determine potential 'criminal' behavior. All personal information that can be gathered to produce the normative backdrop against which anomalies are supposedly revealed by these algorithms will be seen as valuable.

Tell us two truths about yourself, and one lie.

Derek and Jennifer's guilty pleasure is reading gossipy tabloid accounts of celebrity relationships.

Before attending UCLA for degrees in art, Derek spent several years as a test operator for lawnmowers and Jennifer spent several years working as a technician in a steel foundry.

Derek and Jennifer don't own a television, but spend several hours each week watching cartoons on the internet.