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The crowd and the library

A talk I gave to kick off the International Internet Preservation Consortium's workshop on crowdsourcing. Most of the talk is about reframing and unpacking the key components of crowdsourcing.

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The Crowd &
the Library
 The agony and the ecstasy of
 “crowdsourcing” our cultural heritage

                                  Trevor Owens
                                      @tjowens
                                  May 4th, 2012
Two problems with
Crowdsourcing
First Problem:
  the word Crowd
Crowds
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.
Volunteers

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The crowd and the library

  • 1. The Crowd & the Library The agony and the ecstasy of “crowdsourcing” our cultural heritage Trevor Owens @tjowens May 4th, 2012
  • 3. First Problem: the word Crowd
  • 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.
  • 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. Second Problem: the term Sourcing
  • 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. A Citizen Scientist, Archivist, or Journalist is not a labor. They are Amateurs in the best possible sense of the word.
  • 12. Amateur: (French amateur "lover of“) a person attached to a particular pursuit, study, or science, without pay and often without formal training.
  • 13. Still, we are stuck with the word crowdsourcing
  • 14. Toward a richer crowdsourcing 1.Human Computation 2.The Wisdom of Crowds 3.Scaffolding Users into Expertise 4.Understanding Motivation
  • 16. People can make judgments that computers cant.
  • 23. Human computation is most interesting when it isn’t about labor.
  • 25. Human computation’s Key Question: How could we use human judgment to augment computer processable information?
  • 26. Wisdom of Crowds The question of the web is “Why Wasn’t I Consulted”
  • 27. Wikipedia has nothing to do with human computation.
  • 29. 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
  • 30. 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, Amazon.com, 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
  • 32. Wisdom of Crowd’s Key Question: How could we empower and consult with a community of users?
  • 33. Scaffolding Users into expertise The right tools for the job
  • 35. 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.
  • 36. 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
  • 37. Or…
  • 38. 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
  • 40. All tools can act as scaffolds to break down a task. We frequently embed our expertise inside our tools. For example…
  • 42. Example: Getting People to Translate a Firefox Extension is hard.
  • 43. They need to know English, how to edit Firefox locale files, and another language to make any sense of this.
  • 44. BabelZilla Made it so they only needed to know the languages.
  • 45. Scaffolding Users Key Question: How can our tools act as scaffolds to help make the most of users efforts?
  • 46. 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.
  • 47. Motivation Who would want to do this and why?
  • 48. A quick story about motivation
  • 49. 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.
  • 50. The user explained that they had seen that there weren’t that many manuscripts left to transcribe.
  • 51. 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.
  • 52. They needed to ration it out. They needed to make sure that it lasted.
  • 53. 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
  • 54. Motivating Users Key Question: Whose sense of purpose does this project connect to? What identities are involved?
  • 55. The Concepts and their Questions • Human Computation: How could we use human judgment to augment computer processable information? • Wisdom of Crowds: How could we empower and consult with a community of users? • Scaffolding: How can our tools act as scaffolds to help make the most of users efforts? • Motivation: Whose sense of purpose does this project connect to? What identities are involved?
  • 56. Example Project Goals and Measures Social Metadata for Libraries, Archives, and Museums, Karen Smith-Yoshimura and Rose Holley
  • 57. Stages in Web Archiving to Consider 1.Identifying Collecting Targets 2.Quality Assurance 3.Cataloging and Organizing 4.Extracting Metadata 5.Exhibiting and Contextualizing