I was invited to do a presentation for a conference organised by the Chinese Association of Museums in Taipei, Taiwan. I gave a version of ‘Crowdsourcing in libraries and museums: Challenges, opportunities and digital impacts’ tailored for their audience.
Crowdsourcing in museums and libraries involves asking the public to help with tasks that contribute to a shared, significant goal or research interest related to cultural heritage collections or knowledge. This talk will introduce some key examples of successful crowdsourcing projects that have transcribed, categorised, linked and researched millions of cultural heritage and scientific records, and discuss some of the reasons for their success. Digital technologies have enabled exciting new forms of public participation in cultural heritage and the sciences, but they can also challenge museums, libraries and archives to manage the changes that these new opportunities bring. Audience expectations have changed as social media and digital technologies have encouraged greater organisational transparency, and more flexible digitisation and information management practices. How can museums and libraries work with the public to make collections more accessible while making room for people to explore and enjoy collections in new ways?
My chapter is ‘The contributions of family and local historians to British history online‘. My abstract:
Community history projects across Britain have collected and created images, indexes and transcriptions of historical documents ranging from newspaper articles and photographs, to wills and biographical records. Based on analysis of community- and institutionally-led participatory history sites, and interviews with family and local historians, this chapter discusses common models for projects in which community historians cooperated to create digital resources. For decades, family and local historians have organised or contributed to projects to collect, digitise and publish historical sources about British history. What drives amateur historians to voluntarily spend their time digitising cultural heritage? How do they cooperatively or collaboratively create resources? And what challenges do they face?
Mia Ridge is a Digital Curator in the British Library’s Digital Scholarship team. She has a PhD in digital humanities (2015, Department of History, Open University) entitled Making Digital History: the impact of digitality on public participation and scholarly practices in historical research. Previously, she conducted human-computer interaction-based research on crowdsourcing in cultural heritage.
My thanks to the organisers for their excellent hospitality, and to the attendees for their thoughtful and probing questions!
My abstract: Why and how are museums, libraries, archives and academic projects creating crowdsourcing projects to help digitize collections or enhance their knowledge about them? Based on a review of hundreds of heritage crowdsourcing projects, this talk will highlight examples of successful projects, discuss why members of the public volunteer their time, and consider the different outcomes possible.
As part of my trip to Texas for SXSW, I was invited to give a workshop on ‘Crowdsourcing and Cultural Heritage’ in the Fondren Library at Rice University’s Humanities Research CenterSawyer Seminar series on March 7, 2016. My slides are below. My visit was a great chance to find out more about the teaching and projects at the Research Center, and my thanks go to the organisers for their excellent hospitality.
Abstract: This workshop will provide an overview of crowdsourcing in cultural heritage and consider the ethics and motivations for participation. International case studies will be discussed to provide real life illustrations of design tips and to inspire creative thinking.
I was invited to Berlin to give a public lecture on ‘Designing Heritage Crowdsourcing Projects’ at the Friedrich-Meinecke-Institute of the Free University of Berlin on 7 December 2015.
Abstract: Based on a review of the most successful international crowdsourcing projects, this talk will look at the attributes of successful crowdsourcing projects in cultural heritage, including interface and interaction design, participation in community discussion, and understanding participant motivations.
Christy Henshaw, who commissioned the report, has kindly made it available online for reference by other organisations. Her blurb is below:
The Wellcome Library, in considering a project to digitise and transcribe recipe manuscripts using crowdsourcing technologies, commissioned this report from Ben Brumfield and Mia Ridge in Summer 2015. The report addresses issues specific to this project, and to the Wellcome Library’s digital infrastructure.
I was also invited to run a workshop on the basics of crowdsourcing in cultural heritage for a Knowledge Exchange Event, jointly organised by the Scottish Network on Digital Cultural Resources Evaluation and the Museums Galleries Scotland Digital Transformation Network. Aimed at cultural heritage professionals, it was a hands-on exploration and exchange of different approaches to crowd-sourcing and co-creation.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to the discussion at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum!