Panel: Build the Crowdsourcing Community of Your Dreams, SXSW

Having successfully passed the SXSW ‘panel picker’ process, I went to SXSW Interactive 2016 to discuss ‘building the crowdsourcing community of your dreams’ with Ben Brumfield, Meghan Ferriter and Siobhan Leachman (aka @benwbrum, @meghaninmotion and @SiobhanLeachman). We were in the ‘Art, Science, & Inspiration’ track, and while it may have been luck with timing or our title, the venue was standing room only for a while.

Our slides are online, and we put together a list of further resources to tweet during the panel at

Siobhan storified our session and also posted her talk notes. She’s such a passionate volunteer, and you couldn’t get a better account of ‘How cultural institutions encouraged me to participate in crowdsourcing & the factors I consider before donating my time‘.

Panel photo
SXSW crowdsourcing panel photo by Effie Kapsalis @digitaleffie


If you’re interested in our panel, you might also be interested in the later ‘SXSW 2016 – Give It Away to Get Rich: Open Cultural Heritage‘.

Everything SXSW - lamp posts protected from extreme flyering, pedicabs, sunshine and a lounge
Everything SXSW – lamp posts protected from extreme flyering, pedicabs, sunshine and a lounge

Talk: St. Edwards University, Austin

View of downtown Austin
The view of downtown Austin from St Edwards

As part of my trip to Texas for SXSW, I was invited to present on ‘Crowdsourcing, learning and citizen scholarship’ at St Edwards University on March 10, 2016.

Having given an online seminar for Rebecca Frost Davis in a previous role, it was a pleasure to meet her at last, and hear about her work as Director of Instructional and Emerging Technology.

My talk discussed how crowdsourcing projects might offer an opportunity for students to contribute to both cultural heritage and citizen science projects.

Talk: Crowdsourcing in Cultural Heritage, iSchool, UT Austin

As part of my trip to Texas for SXSW, I was invited to present on ‘Crowdsourcing in Cultural Heritage’ at a colloquium at a School of Information Research Event at UT Austin on March 8, 2016.

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.

Austin's Capitol building
Austin’s Capitol building

Workshop: Crowdsourcing and Cultural Heritage, Rice University

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 Center Sawyer 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.

Photo of campus gate
Rice University

Talk and workshop: Crowdsourcing in the Cultural Sector: approaches, challenges and issues, Glasgow

Slides for the Crowd-sourcing, Co-creation and Co-curation in the Cultural Sector workshop by the Scottish Network on Digital Cultural Resources Evaluation

[slideshare id=55672365&doc=glasgowcrowdsourcingtalk-151130222216-lva1-app6892]

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!

HILT Summer School 2015: ‘Crowdsourcing Cultural Heritage’

Resources for the course on Crowdsourcing Cultural Heritage at HILT 2015 I’m teaching with Ben Brumfield.

Course Google Doc for collaborative note-taking, links, etc.

Flickr Group for HILT 2015 Crowdsourcing photos

Mia’s storify of the week and the class presentation for the HILT Show and Tell.

Projects made in the class

Well done @cmderose_wisc @nebrown63 @ElizHansen @ESPaul @vac11 @kmthomas06 @WendyJ1226 @HistorianOnFire @Jim_Salmons @TimlynnBabitsky + Nancy!

Monday: overview, speed dating

HILT Crowdsourcing Slides and Exercises for Monday

Session 2: links to find a project you love! For non-English language projects, try Crowdsourcing the world’s heritage.

Prompts for thinking about projects:

  • How clear was the purpose of the site? How well was it reflected in the ‘call to action’ and other text?
  • How easy was it to get started?
  • Were the steps to complete the task clear?
  • How enjoyable was the task?
  • Did the reward (if any) feel appropriate?
  • Looking at the site overall, does the project appear to be effective?
  • What is the input content? What is the output content?
  • What validation methods appear to have been used?
  • Who is the probable audience and what motivates them to participate?
  • How does the project let participants know they’re making a difference?
  • Does the site support communication between participants?
  • How was the site marketed to potential participants?
  • Did the site anticipate your questions about the tasks?

HILT Crowdsourcing Slides and Exercises Tuesday

HILT Crowdsourcing Slides Wednesday

HILT Crowdsourcing Slides Thursday

HILT Crowdsourcing Slides Friday

HILT 2015 Crowdsourcing class

Continue reading HILT Summer School 2015: ‘Crowdsourcing Cultural Heritage’

Talk: ‘Small ontologies, loosely joined’: linked open data for the First World War, DH2015

I presented a paper, ‘Small ontologies, loosely joined’: linked open data for the First World War, in a panel on Linked Open Data and the First World War at Digital Humanities 2015 (based on my experiences as a Fellow at Trinity College Dublin working on histories of World War One with the CENDARI project).

[slideshare id=51379035&doc=dh2015mridge-150807092801-lva1-app6892]

Seminar: ‘Citizen History and its discontents’, Institute of Historical Research Digital History seminar

I was invited to give a talk on my work in the Institute of Historical Research (IHR) Seminar in Digital History series.  I talked about ‘Citizen History and its discontents’:

‘An increasing number of crowdsourcing projects are making claims about ‘citizen history’ – but are they really helping people become historians, or are they overstating their contribution? Can citizen history projects succeed without communities of experts and peers to nurture sparks of historical curiosity and support novice historians in learning the skills of the discipline? Through a series of case studies this paper offers a critical examination of claims around citizen history.’

The video and slides are linked from the IHR Seminar in Digital History site.

Seminar: ‘Crowdsourcing 101: Fundamentals and Case Studies’

The Crowdsourcing Consortium for Libraries and Archives (CCLA) organised an online seminar on Crowdsourcing 101: Fundamentals and Case Studies. I was invited to present an overview of ‘fundamentals’ in crowdsourcing in cultural heritage, including examples of successful projects, typical data input and output types, common tasks, and ways to think motivations for participation and levels of engagement. From the OCLC’s page:

This webinar will explore crowdsourcing techniques used increasingly by organizations and institutions seeking to gather vast amounts of new knowledge and participation from online contributors.

Crowdsourcing techniques are increasingly being utilized by organizations and institutions—including libraries and museums—seeking to gather vast amounts of new knowledge and participation from online contributors. In this fast-paced hour-long introduction, you’ll get a handle on “Crowdsourcing Fundamentals” from leading voice in the field Mia Ridge, along with first-person accounts from two exemplar crowdsourcing projects (NYPL, Zooniverse). Learn the basics about implementing crowdsourcing techniques, securing funding, engaging users, and assessing the quality of crowdsourced data, as well as the advantages and challenges of utilizing crowdsourcing.

This webinar is part of the newly formed Crowdsourcing Consortium for Libraries and Archives (CCLA). Funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the goal of CCLA is to forge national/international partnerships to advance the use of crowdsourcing technologies, tools, user experiences, and platforms to help libraries, museums, archives, and more.’

Slides, video and chat notes are available on the OCLC’s page.

If you found this post useful, you might be interested in my book, Crowdsourcing Our Cultural Heritage.

Conference paper: Where is the revolution in citizen history? The place of crowdsourcing in public history

I gave a paper asking ‘Where is the revolution in citizen history? The place of crowdsourcing in public history’ at the IFPH-FIHP International Conference ‘Public History in a Digital World: The Revolution Reconsidered’, in Amsterdam 23-25 October 2014 #IFPH2014.

My paper was based on my PhD research so I won’t share my notes until after I’ve submitted my thesis, but here’s my proposal:

When the term ‘citizen history’ was used in a 2011 blog post about the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Children of the Lodz Ghetto project, which asked members of the public to investigate specific tightly defined research questions,[1] it seemed to herald a new participatory movement in public history. Citizen history is the use of digital platforms to distribute, coordinate and validate contributions by members of the public to historic research projects. The complexity of the task and the level of public involvement ranges from simple contributions through crowdsourced observation, transcription or categorisation tasks to independent research on set questions, or even co-defining the research question in co-created projects.[2] Through this active engagement with historical material, some crowdsourcing contributors become citizen historians as they develop an interest in researching the histories of the individuals, events or places they have encountered during participatory tasks.

But despite the promise of crowdsourcing as a form of active engagement with history, this potential revolution in public history may have stalled. Non-heritage sector organisations like Ancestry and FamilySearch are working with museums, archives and libraries to digitise and transcribe records relevant to family historians, and most of the major citizen history projects are based on software created for scientific crowdsourcing, while public history projects seem to follow traditional broadcast and exhibition-based models.

Based on a critical analysis of existing history crowdsourcing and participatory public history projects, this short paper will ask why public history projects are not actively engaging the public in making history.


If you found this post useful, you might be interested in my book, Crowdsourcing Our Cultural Heritage.

[1] Elissa Frankle, “More Crowdsourced Scholarship: Citizen History,” Center for the Future of Museums, July 28, 2011,

[2] Bonney, Rick, Heidi Ballard, Rebecca Jordan, Ellen McCallie, Tina Phillips, Jenifer Shirk, and Candie C. Wilderman. Public Participation in Scientific Research: Defining the Field and Assessing Its Potential for Informal Science Education. A CAISE Inquiry Group Report. Washington D.C.: Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE), July 2009.