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The crowd and the library


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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.

Published in: Technology, Education

The crowd and the library

  1. 1. The Crowd &the Library The agony and the ecstasy of “crowdsourcing” our cultural heritage Trevor Owens @tjowens May 4th, 2012
  2. 2. Two problems withCrowdsourcing
  3. 3. First Problem: the word Crowd
  4. 4. Crowds
  5. 5. Most successful crowdsourcingprojects are not about largeanonymous masses of people.They are about invitingparticipation from relativelysmall interested and engagedmembers of the public.
  6. 6. Volunteers
  7. 7. These projects can continue along standing tradition ofvolunteerism and involvementof citizens in the creation andcontinued development ofpublic goods
  8. 8. Second Problem: the term Sourcing
  9. 9. Sourcingis for labor
  10. 10. “Work consists of whatever abody is obliged to do.Play consists of whatever abody is not obliged to do.”Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  11. 11. A Citizen Scientist, Archivist,or Journalist is not a labor.They are Amateurs in thebest possible sense of theword.
  12. 12. Amateur: (French amateur"lover of“) a person attachedto a particular pursuit, study,or science, without pay andoften without formal training.
  13. 13. Still, we are stuckwith the wordcrowdsourcing
  14. 14. Toward a richer crowdsourcing 1.Human Computation 2.The Wisdom of Crowds 3.Scaffolding Users into Expertise 4.Understanding Motivation
  15. 15. HumanComputation people as computers.
  16. 16. People can makejudgments thatcomputers cant.
  17. 17. Human computationsees people asmachines.
  18. 18. Human competitionis often about labor.
  19. 19. Human computationis most interestingwhen it isn’t aboutlabor.
  20. 20. Human computation’sKey Question:How could we use humanjudgment to augment computerprocessable information?
  21. 21. Wisdom of CrowdsThe question of the web is “Why Wasn’t I Consulted”
  22. 22. Wikipedia hasnothing to do withhuman computation.
  23. 23. Why Wasn’t I Consulted:is the fundamental question of the web…Humans have a fundamental need to beconsulted, engaged, to exercise theirknowledge (and thus power), and noother medium that came before hasbeen 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 beconsulted you can get some interestingreactions. Here are a few: Wikipedia,StackOverflow, Hunch,Reddit, MetaFilter,YouTube, Twitter, StumbleUpon, About,Quora, Ebay,Yelp, Flickr, IMDB,, Craigslist, GitHub,SourceForge, every messageboard or sitewith comments, 4Chan, EncyclopediaDramatica. Plus the entire Open Sourcemovement. The Web Is a Customer Service Medium, Paul Ford
  25. 25. Wisdom of Crowd’sKey Question:How could we empower andconsult with a community ofusers?
  26. 26. Scaffolding Usersinto expertise The right tools for the job
  27. 27. Scaffoldingputs one inposition todo a job.
  28. 28. Helping someone succeed isoften about getting them the righttools. All tools can act asscaffolds to break down a task.We frequently embed ourexpertise inside our tools.
  29. 29. Measuring the Diameter of a tree1. 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 ) = 425. Isolate the diameter by dividing 22, obtaining 42/226. Reduce the fraction 42/22 1.9 feet
  30. 30. Or…
  31. 31. Just use a measuring tape thathas the algorithm for diameterembedded inside it and let itthink for you. From Distributed Intelligence, Roy Pea
  32. 32. All tools can act as scaffolds tobreak down a task. We frequentlyembed our expertise inside ourtools. For example…
  33. 33. Example:Getting People to Translate aFirefox Extension is hard.
  34. 34. They need to know English, how toedit Firefox locale files, and anotherlanguage to make any sense of this.
  35. 35. BabelZilla Made it so they onlyneeded to know the languages.
  36. 36. Scaffolding UsersKey Question:How can our tools act asscaffolds to help make the mostof users efforts?
  37. 37. Helping someone succeed isoften about getting them the righttools. All tools can act asscaffolds to break down a task.We frequently embed ourexpertise inside our tools.
  38. 38. MotivationWho would want to do this andwhy?
  39. 39. A quick story about motivation
  40. 40. Ben Brumfield runs a range ofcrowdsourcing transcription projects.At one point in a transcription projecthe noticed that one of his powerusers was slowing down, cuttingback significantly on transcribingthese manuscripts.
  41. 41. The user explained that they hadseen that there weren’t that manymanuscripts left to transcribe.
  42. 42. For this user, the 2-3 hours a daythey spent working on transcriptionswas an important part of their daythat they had decided to denythemselves some of thatexperience.
  43. 43. They needed to ration it out.They needed to make sure that itlasted.
  44. 44. After our basic needs are covered, thethings that generally matter most to usarePurpose: causes we care forIdentity: things that define usMeaning: doing things that matterBelonging: being a part of something
  45. 45. Motivating UsersKey Question:Whose sense of purpose doesthis project connect to? Whatidentities are involved?
  46. 46. 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?
  47. 47. Example Project Goals and Measures Social Metadata for Libraries, Archives, and Museums, Karen Smith-Yoshimura and Rose Holley
  48. 48. Stages in Web Archiving to Consider1.Identifying Collecting Targets2.Quality Assurance3.Cataloging and Organizing4.Extracting Metadata5.Exhibiting and Contextualizing