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Natural sciences collections around the world comprise more than one billion specimens, representing a vast source of information on the natural world.
Natural History Museums and similar institutions hold and care for these collections on behalf of us all - they are an international public resource. Mobilising these data for research, conservation and public use is a formidable task - and one that is ideally suited to citizen science.
Using the power of the crowd to extract, transcribe, interpret and/or analyse data from handwritten labels brings the scale of the task within reach within our lifetimes.
My talk 'Digitising Dinosaurs' focused on the crowdsourcing of specimen label transcriptions as part of the Digital Collections Programme at the Natural History Museum London.
This Crowdsourcing symposium in which my talk was one out of four, brought together international examples of crowdsourcing platforms, and highlights practical tools and advice for setting up and running a crowdsourcing project.
We shared innovative ideas for engaging broad global audiences in this endeavour and tips for supporting and nurturing an online community of citizen scientists including the similarities and differences to face-to-face engagement and training.
Crowdsourcing by its nature is a big data movement, and we will demonstrate existing tools and new ones under development that can facilitate open data sharing and the onward use of data for education, conservation and ongoing research.
Finally, such a task doesn't come without significant challenges and opportunities! We shared our lessons learned, highlight issues we are still facing and invite suggestions and collaborations from the audience to overcome these.