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Crowdsourcing, scholarship and the academy

Talk for the School of Advanced Study, University of London 'Social Scholar' seminar series

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Crowdsourcing, scholarship and the academy

  1. 1. Crowdsourcing, scholarship and the academy Mia Ridge Digital Curator, British Library @mia_out Social Scholar lunchtime seminar School of Advanced Study, University of London
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  3. 3. 3 What is crowdsourcing? Crowdsourcing (Jeff Howe and Mark Robinson, Wired, 2006): 'the act of as company or institution taking a function once performed by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined (and generally large) network of people in the form of an open call' Or, as Clay Shirky's cognitive surplus, 'the spare processing power of millions of human brains‘ Or, as volunteering online
  4. 4. 4 Crowdsourcing in cultural heritage is... ...asking the public to help with tasks that contribute to a shared, significant goal or research interest related to cultural heritage collections or knowledge. The activities and/or goals should be inherently rewarding.
  5. 5. 5 Crowdsourcing in GLAMs • Tasks like collecting, digitisation, description, transcription undertaken by distributed, possibly anonymous participants • Participation possibly as 'volunteers', or as side-effect of playing games or own work on historical materials • Appeals to intrinsic motivations; interest in subject; altruism; mastering new skills * GLAMs are galleries, libraries, museums, archives
  6. 6. 6 Motivations as guidance People crave: • satisfying work to do • the experience of being good at something • time spent with people we like • the chance to be a part of something bigger (Jane McGonigal, 2009) State Library of New South Wales
  7. 7. 7 Crowdsourcing before the web • 19th Century natural history collecting • 1849 Smithsonian weather observation project • 1857, 1879 Oxford English Dictionary appeals • WWII Soldiers given a Field Collector's Manual in Natural History by the US Museum of Natural History James Murray, editor, OED, with contributor slips
  8. 8. 8 ReCAPTCHA
  9. 9. 9 National Library of Australia: Trove
  10. 10. 10 Transcribe Bentham
  11. 11. 11 Reading Experience Database
  12. 12. 12 FreeBMD
  13. 13. 13 Old Weather
  14. 14. 14 Old Weather forum
  15. 15. 15 Old Weather
  16. 16. 16 Communities of practice as ‘social learning systems’
  17. 17. 17 Crowdsourcing as 'stepping stones'
  18. 18. 18 Operation War Diary
  19. 19. 19 Operation War Diary
  20. 20. 20 Operation War Diary
  21. 21. 21 Operation War Diary
  22. 22. 22 #party host Crowdsourcing as hosting a party
  23. 23. 23 Jonathan Kriz
  24. 24. 24 Early Modern Recipes Online Collective (EMROC) ‘For the building-block assignment over the course of the term, we will be undertaking an exciting hands-on collaborative project: an online transcription and online analysis of Johanna St. John’s seventeenth-century household book. … We will spend time learning technical skills, as well as talking about history. The course will develop your oral, writing, analytical, collaborative and technology skills. As such, the final grade of the course is based on your seminar participation, transcription, and research essay.#
  25. 25. 25 Skills gained? American Historical Association (AHA) 'core competencies’ • the ability to engage in historical inquiry, research, and analysis; • to practice historical empathy; • to understand the complex nature of the historical record; • generate significant, open-ended questions about the past and devise research strategies to answer them; • to craft historical narrative and argument; • to practice historical thinking Historical thinking • Observation • Sourcing • Inferencing • Evidence • Question posing • Corroboration Bill Tally and Lauren B. Goldenberg, “Fostering Historical Thinking With Digitized Primary Sources,” Journal of Research on Technology in Education
  26. 26. 26 Thank you!
  27. 27. 27 What do you think? •Can academics (realistically) find the time for good community engagement? •Can academics share credit, authorship, authority? •Impact and the REF? •Crowdsourcing vs traditional education – Ethics, extrinsic motivation – Practical skills for students