KELLY SLATER was about to lose. So he decided to go all in and ... tweet.
No, he wasn't trying to sweet-talk a judge at a surfing event. Slater was rallying his fans to help him make the cut for a video contest hosted by Innersection.tv, a new Web site that calls itself a "platform for creating a surf movie." Aspiring filmmakers team up with a surfer to submit clips, Innersection members vote for favorites, and at the end of the year, 20 winners have their clips edited together by surf-film kingpin Taylor Steele. The top-rated clip overall also earns a $100,000 prize.
Crowdsourcing has officially arrived in the world of adventure. Freedom to Roam, a Denver-based nonprofit working to protect animal migration corridors, has signed on some 1,500 "citizen naturalists" to post animal observations on its new Witness for Wildlife Web site. Similarly, San Francisco transportation officials called on bicycle commuters to help map new bike lanes with a smart-phone app called CycleTracks, which records your route as you pedal. Even serious scientists are getting comfortable with outsourcing to the masses: one archaeological expedition in Mongolia asked desktop-bound explorers to scour satellite photos for the lost tomb of Genghis Khan.
Still, while emerging technologies may have us turning to the crowd for answers, sometimes we still prefer to follow the leader. Just ask Slater. In the waning hours of the Innersection.tv contest, his tweet garnered him the ratings to vault into the finals.