Tonja Deegan’s post about the Library of Congress’ turning to the Flickr community as a way of helping identify missing information about its photos struck me as a particularly interesting Web 2.0-ish take on the way we’ve been finding missing information for quite some time.

Photos of missing children have been posted on milk cartons now for decades.   Missing inmates can still find their pix on post office bulletin boards.   Portraits of missing pets regularly bloom on telephone poles in America’s neighborhoods. But technology now is prompting us to extend this technique to objects and opportunities that we never would have considered before.   

In 2006, for example, NASA diverted the cameras of its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to look for the missing Mars Global Surveyor probe that mysteriously lost touch with its human controllers after nine years of reporting from its orbit around the red planet.

If you miss any TV series—dating all the way back to the 1950s right through the current, writer-hampered season—you can see many of them these days on  It’s a Web site that offers “content from two leading broadcast networks (Fox and NBC), over 15 cable networks (Bravo, E! Entertainment, FX, Sci Fi, USA, and more), four of the largest studios (Fox, MGM, Sony and Universal), and a broad array of independent, web-centric content providers,” according to its launch release.

While space probes and Alfred Hitchcock Presents may be quite valuable, each in its own way, Web 2.0 also is enabling us to visualize missing items that we never really intended to look for in the first place.   Last month, NPR interviewed one Jennifer Gooch, a woman in Pittsburgh who has set up a Web site within Flickr called to help reunite people with their missing gloves that they’ve dropped along the way, all around the city.   She and her cohorts have traveled around, picking up single gloves that people have apparently lost, photographing them and then displaying the photos on the Web site.   Anyone who e-mails in a picture of the mate will receive the missing match from Ms. Gooch. It’s pretty much a for mittens.   

So providing a helping hand in gathering photo-related information may not be that new, but it certainly has become entertaining, thanks to the innovative minds of the hulus, Gooches, rocket scientists and librarians who populate Web 2.0 with equal prowess and photographic memories.

–Steve Friedman

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