Session 1: Future of Crowdsourcing (10:30-11:20)

Future of Crowdsourcing

Room 108

10:30-11:20 AM April 18, 2015


Lots of crowdsourcing project, but what’s next?


How do you define success- provide an outcome that outweighs the cost, is sustainable – how to measure value of crowdsourcing, where it works and where it doesn’t


in order to get funded, of course you have to define what the outcome will be

There’s value in getting work done – what are some other values?

-crowdsourcing of metadata, items for a collection? For metadata, if there is a goal of public engagement, that works, but if you are “flavor-saving” for the institution, you question whether you are spending too time editing outside information

-BUT of course crowdsourcing can bring in information you don’t know you don’t have


Crowdsourcing has tangible values of labor saving, higher detail records; but there are intangible values of ownership, public scholarship, involving people traditionally outside domain – changing what scholarship is and means


dealing with the question of why we fund the humanities in general


Might be good to track who participates, have those statistics

-there is a spectrum of participation/donation – from volunteer to financial donation; these both can be measures of sucess


Citizen science – there was a (name forgotten) project of public identifying celestial bodies, same platform went on to be used to transcribe coptic documents. These platforms provide opportunities for cross-discipline, bringing science and humanities together. Tools are NOT necessarily one-domain

also Zooniverse started off as a citizen science project, turned into a project of war diaries


Tools aren’t really creating epiphanies of interdisciplinary study, but creating new ways to think of the multiple uses of platforms.


Instead of calling contributors volunteers, it has now been proposed to call them “volunpeers”

-Language fosters community (even if the community is pretty self-selecting)

-Smithsonian does this, creates competition, fun and games – giving people an incentive to participate in transcription

-How to get more people involved who don’t commonly self-select? “Recaptchas” (used for security on websites and to create text and image recognition – people don’t go around saying “hey, I want to help Google,” but they could say “hey, I want to play this game”) could in a way be part of a project, and provide a link for “if you want to do more transcription, go to this site”

-projects directed toward K-12 education (and not just editing Wikipedia for a class day). Transcribing would be great for teaching handwriting and looking at a primary source (at least documents of the “Founding Fathers” might be popular)

-not all students (K-12 or undergraduate) will be immediately engaged, but some might build lasting interests


Have to tap into networking – hope that your project spreads or “goes viral.” You can target groups and hope that they “infect” others with interest for the project. In a way you can only control the first steps – the “going viral” has to come later

-Outreach and marketing: if you build it, they’ll only come if you market it

-Also need evaluation to find what worked and could be used again, or what needs to be changed

We might not be too good at outreach and evaluation yet – some projects have the mentality that any result is a good result, and prematurely congratulate themselves.

-Part of the problem in some cases is of course that libraries are underfunded – they need a different yardstick of success than a large museum would need.

-Humanities don’t traditionally use numbers, so metrics might not need to be numerical. You could use word clouds or other representations. The story isn’t always in the data. Maybe bring people from related fields in to see how we can visualize data

-sentiment analysis, words used in conjunction with others?

-meritology, narrative analysis

-Seems like there is more collaboration between departments than there is between qualitative and quantitative analysis

-Some attempts at programming, like Qualrus? But it’s not quite digital yet, still requires a lot of human input, since people can notice patterns computers can’t.


Have to check, as the Smithsonian does, how much people contribute when they do visit the site. Do they just visit for a few seconds or minutes, or do they interact? Need to build the metrics into the site from moment one.

What are some projects that could be done, or partnerships that could be made, in the foreseeable future?

“Remembering Lincoln” at Ford’s Theater – trying to find where people have their own collections. Still has issues with outreach, realizing that it takes more effort than thought. Could use K-12 outreach

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About Angela Spidalette

I am a junior at the George Washington University studying archaeology and classical studies. I have participated in projects such as the Lodz Ghetto Project through the USHMM and the Smithsonian Transcription Center. Furthermore, I find the digitization of museum collections very interesting.