I was invited to give a keynote on ‘Crowdsourcing our cultural heritage’ at Nordiske Arkivdage 2015 (#NordiskArkiv), a triennial gathering of archivists from Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland in Copenhagen on May 8, 2015. I greatly enjoyed hearing about various crowdsourcing projects that state and city archives in those countries have worked on over the years (and would still love to hear more). My slides are below.
From my introduction:
Today I want to talk about why crowdsourcing creates opportunities for productive, meaningful public engagement with cultural heritage. This isn’t a sales pitch – crowdsourcing is not a ‘magic bullet’ – but I think an investment in crowdsourcing can be repaid with impressive results in the amount of material processed, and in new relationships with our shared cultural heritage in museums, libraries, universities, community groups and archives.
So in the next twenty minutes I will briefly explain what crowdsourcing in cultural heritage is, give you a glimpse of some projects where crowdsourcing has been incredibly productive, and discuss how it can help make collections more accessible while engaging people more deeply in thinking about those collections…
Crowdsourcing in cultural heritage asks the public to help with tasks that contribute to a shared, significant goal or research interest related to cultural heritage collections or knowledge. As a voluntary activity, the tasks and/or goals should be inherently rewarding.
Abstract: The centenary of World War One and the digitisation of records from a range of museums, libraries and archives has inspired many members of the public to research the lives of WWI soldiers. But it is not always easy to find or interpret military records. What was it like to be in a particular battalion or regiment at a particular time. Can a ‘collaborative collection’ help provide context for individual soldiers’ experience of the war by linking personal diaries, letters and memoirs to places, people and events? What kinds of digital infrastructure are needed to support research on soldiers in the Great War? This lecture explores the potential for collaborating with members of the general public and academic or amateur historians to transcribe and link disparate online collections of World War One material. What are the challenges and opportunities for participatory digital history?
Thursday, 04 December 2014 | 13:00 | Trinity Long Room Hub
A lecture by Visiting Research Fellow at the Trinity Long Room Hub, Mia Ridge (The Open University). Mia is a Transnational Access fellow, funded by the CENDARI project (Collaborative European Digital Archive Infrastructure).
I was invited to be a panellist for Oxford ASPIRE’s first knowledge sharing event on 13th November 2012, Living in the Digital World: Horizon Scanning for Museums (PDF). Oxford ASPIRE is a consortium of Oxford University Museums (the Ashmolean, Pitt Rivers, History of Science, Natural History Museums) and the Oxfordshire County Museums Service.
Our 16 delegates gathered at the Pitt Rivers Museum and questions and ideas began bubbling immediately over coffee. The event officially began with thoughts and provocations from our four expert panelists who gave their over-view of the key digital issues facing museums. Delegates and panelists then entered into a lively and illuminating conversation.’ They’ve linked to podcasts and transcripts of the introductions in their post.
As part of opening session on the ‘aims, plans and challenges of the Commodity Histories project and website’ I led a card-sorting exercise aimed at finding out how potential scholars in the community of commodity historians would expect to find and interact with content and other scholars in the network. We prepared print-outs of sample content in advance and asked participants to sort them into groups and then label them. At the end of the workshop I presented the different headings the groups had come up with and discussed the different ways they’d organised the material.
While some work had been done on the site structure previously, the process was useful for understanding some of the expectations people had about the functionality and sociability of the site as well as checking how they’d expect the site to be organised. Various other presentations and discussion during the workshop reinforced the idea that the key task of the site is to enable contributors to add content easily and often, and tempered our expectations about how much scholarly networking would be visible as conversations on the site.
By day, I’m usually at work at the British Library, so drop me a line if you’d like to meet for coffee and a chat. This means my availability for events is limited, but you can drop me a line if you’d like to book me for an event.