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Cultural Heritage and the Crowd


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Slides for an invited presentation I gave to the the National Archives and Records Administration’s Online Public Access (OPA) Integrated Product Team in College Park, MD in 2013.

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Cultural Heritage and the Crowd

  1. 1. Cultural Heritage and the Crowd Trevor Owens @tjowens Sep 3rd, 2013
  2. 2. Two problems with Crowdsourcing
  3. 3. First Problem: the word Crowd
  4. 4. Crowds
  5. 5. Most successful crowdsourcing projects are not about large anonymous masses of people. They are about inviting participation from relatively small interested and engaged members of the public.
  6. 6. Volunteers
  7. 7. These projects can continue a long standing tradition of volunteerism and involvement of citizens in the creation and continued development of public goods
  8. 8. Second Problem: the term Sourcing
  9. 9. Sourcing is for labor
  10. 10. “Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.” Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  11. 11. A Citizen Scientist, Archivist, or Journalist is not a laborer. They are Amateurs in the best possible sense of the word.
  12. 12. Amateur: (French amateur "lover of“) a person attached to a particular pursuit, study, or science, without pay and often without formal training.
  13. 13. Still, we are stuck with the word crowdsourcing
  14. 14. Toward a richer crowdsourcing 1.Human Computation 2.The Wisdom of Crowds 3.Scaffolding Users into Expertise 4.Understanding Motivation
  15. 15. Human Computation people as computers.
  16. 16. People can make judgments that computers cant.
  17. 17. Human computation sees people as machines.
  18. 18. Human computation is often about labor.
  19. 19. Human computation is most interesting when it isn’t about labor.
  20. 20. Human computation’s Key Question: How could we use human judgment to augment computer processable information?
  21. 21. Wisdom of Crowds The question of the web is “Why Wasn’t I Consulted”
  22. 22. Wikipedia has nothing to do with human computation.
  23. 23.  Why Wasn’t I Consulted:  is the fundamental question of the web…  Humans have a fundamental need to be  consulted, engaged, to exercise their knowledge (and thus power), and no other medium that came before has been able to tap into that as effectively. The Web Is a Customer Service Medium, Paul Ford  
  24. 24. If you tap into the human need to be consulted you can get some interesting  reactions. Here are a few: Wikipedia,  StackOverflow, Hunch,Reddit, MetaFilter,  YouTube, Twitter, StumbleUpon, About,  Quora, Ebay,Yelp, Flickr, IMDB,, Craigslist, GitHub,  SourceForge, every messageboard or site  with comments, 4Chan, Encyclopedia  Dramatica. Plus the entire Open Source movement. The Web Is a Customer Service Medium, Paul Ford
  25. 25. Wisdom of Crowd’s  Key Question:  How could we foster, empower  and consult with communities  interested in our content? 
  26. 26. Scaffolding Users  into expertise The right tools for the job
  27. 27. Scaffolding  puts one in  position to  do a job.
  28. 28. Helping someone succeed is  often about getting them the right  tools. All tools can act as scaffolds to break down a task.  We frequently embed our expertise inside our tools. 
  29. 29. Measuring the Diameter of a tree 1. Measure the circumference of the tree (6 feet);  2. Remember that the diameter is related to the  circumference of an object according to the  formula circumference/diameter equals 22/ z (or  pi);  3. Set up the formula, replacing the variable  circumference with the value of 6 feet;  4. Cross-multiply, getting 22 (diameter-unknown )  = 42  5. Isolate the diameter by dividing 22, obtaining  42/22  6. Reduce the fraction 42/22 1.9 feet
  30. 30. Or…
  31. 31. Just use a measuring tape that  has the algorithm for diameter embedded inside it and let it  think for you. From Distributed Intelligence, Roy Pea
  32. 32. All tools can act as scaffolds to  break down a task. We frequently  embed our expertise inside our tools. For example…
  33. 33. Example:  Getting People to Translate a  Firefox Extension is hard.
  34. 34. They need to know English, how to edit Firefox locale files, and another language to make any sense of this.
  35. 35. BabelZilla Made it so they only needed to know the languages.
  36. 36. Scaffolding Users Key Question: How can our tools act as scaffolds to help make the most of users efforts?
  37. 37. Helping someone succeed is often about getting them the right tools. All tools can act as scaffolds to break down a task. We frequently embed our expertise inside our tools.
  38. 38. Motivation Who would want to do this and why?
  39. 39. A quick story about motivation
  40. 40. Ben Brumfield runs a range of crowdsourcing transcription projects. At one point in a transcription project he noticed that one of his power users was slowing down, cutting back significantly on transcribing these manuscripts.
  41. 41. The user explained that they had seen that there weren’t that many manuscripts left to transcribe.
  42. 42. For this user, the 2-3 hours a day they spent working on transcriptions was an important part of their day that they had decided to deny themselves some of that experience.
  43. 43. They needed to ration it out. They needed to make sure that it lasted.
  44. 44. After our basic needs are covered, the things that generally matter most to us are Purpose: causes we care for Identity: things that define us Meaning: doing things that matter Belonging: being a part of something
  45. 45. Motivating Users Key Question: Whose sense of purpose does this project connect to? What identities are involved?
  46. 46. The Concepts and their Questions 1. Human Computation: How could we use human judgment to augment computer processable information? 2. Wisdom of Crowds: How could we empower and consult with a community of users? 3. Scaffolding: How can our tools act as scaffolds to help make the most of users efforts? 4. Motivation: Whose sense of purpose does this project connect to? What identities are involved?