Keynote: Crowdsourcing our cultural heritage, Nordiske Arkivdage 2015

Photo of the audience arriving at Nordiske Arkivdage 2015
The audience arriving at Nordiske Arkivdage 2015

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.

If you’re interested in engagement through crowdsourcing, you might also like From tagging to theorizing: deepening engagement with cultural heritage through crowdsourcing. Curator: The Museum Journal, 56(4) pp. 435–450. If you’re interested in crowdsourcing in cultural heritage generally, try the book! My Introduction to Crowdsourcing Our Cultural Heritage is online.

Lecture: ‘A pilot with public participation in historical research: linking lived experiences of the First World War’, Trinity College Dublin

Trinity lecture poster
Trinity lecture poster

As part of my Visiting Research Fellowship at Trinity College Dublin’s Long Room Hub I gave a lecture on ‘A pilot with public participation in historical research: linking lived experiences of the First World War‘.

The abstract and podcast are below, and there’s further information about my CENDARI Fellowship here.

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).

Panel: ASPIRE Digital Roundtable: “Horizon Scanning: Living in the Digital World”

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.

As they say in their post, ASPIRE Digital Roundtable: “Horizon Scanning: Living in the Digital World”, ‘This roundtable event brought together a small number of museum professionals to discuss how museums could thrive in the increasingly digital landscape by exploring innovations, opportunities for collaboration and funding sources.

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.

Card-sorting activity at the Commodity Histories workshop

The AHRC-funded Commodity Histories project aims to produce a ‘website that will function as a collaborative space for scholars engaged in commodities-related research’.  The project organised a workshop, ‘Designing a collaborative research web space: aims, plans and challenges of the Commodity Histories project‘ in London on 6-7 September 2012.

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.

has written up some of the workshop at The Boundaries of Commodities.

Upcoming talks and travel

Trinity lecture poster
Trinity lecture poster

My edited volume on ‘Crowdsourcing our Cultural Heritage’ for Ashgate, featuring chapters from some of the most amazing people working in the field was published in October 2014. (I know I’m biased, but seriously.) You can read my introduction on the OU repository: Crowdsourcing Our Cultural Heritage: Introduction.

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.

Some upcoming trips: in February I’m doing a workshop in Edinburgh for Dr Anouk Lang’s Beyond the Black Box: Building Algorithmic and Statistical Literacy through Digital Humanities Tools and Resources and in Santa Barbara for Always Already Computational: Library Collections as Data. I’m keynoting at DIGIKULT 2017 in Sweden in March, and in June I’m in Sydney for the Future Library Congress at EduTECH. I will be popping down to Melbourne so let me know if you’re up for a coffee. I’ll also be giving a keynote in France in October.

Some recent papers

This is rarely up-to-date or complete, but…

In November 2016 I was in Riga, Latvia to give the closing keynote at the Europeana Network Association AGM 2016. In October I spoke at ‘What should be in your digital toolbox‘, gave a keynote, ‘Digital history: evolution or transformation?’ at The Science of Evolution and the Evolution of the Sciences conference in Leuven, Belgium around October 12th and 13th, 2016 and at Internet Librarian International then chaired the Museums Computer Group’s Museums+Tech conference. In August I was in York for ‘Negotiating Expertise’ and in Helsinki for Museum Theme Days 2016 in September.

In June 2016 I was in Luxembourg for a workshop on Network Visualisation in the Cultural Heritage Sector. My talk notes for Network visualisations and the ‘so what?’ problem are online. I also keynoted at LIBER (Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche – Association of European Research Libraries) in Helsinki. My slides are online but may not make much sense without notes.

In March 2016 I was at Rice University in Houston then Austin (at the iSchool in UT Austin then St Edwards), then I was on a panel on ‘Build the Crowdsourcing Community of Your Dreams’ at SXSWi 2016 with Ben Brumfield, Meghan Ferriter and Siobhan Leachman.

In January 2016 I was back in Oxford for a workshop on ‘DIY Digitisation’ at the Bodleian Libraries.

Here’s a summary of talks, fellowships, writing, etc in 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011. You can also follow me on twitter (@mia_out) for updates.

Previous papers are generally listed at miaridge.com or on my blog, Open Objects.

Linking Museums meetup

Somehow I ended up organising a meetup about ‘Linking museums: machine-readable data in cultural heritage‘.  I’ve written about it for the UK MCG blog and there’s a write-up of ‘linking museums’ from various people on the ‘Museums and the machine-processable web’ wiki.  If you’re interested in ‘helping museums make content re-usable; helping programmers access museum content’, the wiki is a good place to join in.

I’ve also shared some thoughts on publishing re-usable object data and subject authorities from the Science Museum on the wiki.