What is Crowd Sourcing?

Crowd sourcing refers to a set of methods that can be used to motivate a community to contribute ideas, information, or content that would otherwise remain undiscovered. Its rapidly growing appeal stems from its effectiveness in filling gaps that cannot be bridged by other means. One of the most well known examples of this is Wikipedia, where volunteers provide information and definitions for subject matter of their expertise. Crowd sourcing generates what is known as the explicit form of collective intelligence. Knowledge is constantly refined through the contributions of thousands of authors. Within the academy, crowd sourcing is often a way for researchers to draw on public knowledge to provide missing historical or other specific details related to communities or families, complete large-scale tasks, or solve inherently complex issues. For many tasks, institutions are finding that amateur scholars or even people whose lives simply were contemporary to the event, object, images, or other research focus being documented are remarkably effective in providing deep level detail around a topic or in documenting a large body of materials. Related to crowd sourcing in many ways is crowd funding, an effort to raise money through a network of people -- usually through resources on the Internet. Many organizations, especially start-ups, turn to online tools such as Kickstarter to finance new projects and products. Crowd funding has been known to support many different activities, from helping communities recover from disasters to free software development.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • The power of synergy to reveal and render a greater result, teaches and exemplifies the power of collaboration. - s-sarraf s-sarraf Aug 19, 2013
  • - ssbautista ssbautista Aug 23, 2013 Increased opportunities for the public to participate, to feel empowered, and build trust and allegiance to the museum. Wikis, Flickr, Historypin and others allow museums to reach out to a largely unknown public in order to cull information, diffuse knowledge, share, and promote dialog. - murawski27 murawski27 Aug 24, 2013 Yes, yes, yes! - adrianne.russell adrianne.russell Aug 26, 2013THIS. All day!
  • (- jfoley jfoley Aug 26, 2013) Potential for real visitor engagement, and for visitors to feel a real investment in the institution. - adrianne.russell adrianne.russell Aug 26, 2013Yes!

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • common culture, shared belief - s-sarraf s-sarraf Aug 19, 2013
  • - ssbautista ssbautista Aug 23, 2013 Important to distinguish between two types of crowd sourcing; one in which the crowd participates on a closed, more recreational level like ARGs or crowd-curated exhibitions, and one in which the crowd is asked to openly provide expertise, facts, information (collective intelligence), such as the intended audience for online scholarly catalogs. Crowd funding is in a category by itself. Participation is not the same across the board, just as the "crowd" is not a homogenous entity, even as the museum attempts to democratize itself.
  • - don.undeen don.undeen Aug 25, 2013 the challenge for many museums, to "let go." An honest crowdsourcing effort requires accepting (and ideally, welcoming) that the results you get might not be the ones you expected. Really letting the 'crowd' drive the car. Re-establishing a new kind of authority by being enthusiastic participants in dialogue with the crowd.
  • Needs to tease out crowdsourcing as productive method for digitising content vs 'collective intelligence' and decision making vs crowdsourcing and living memory/experiential knowledge - mia.ridge mia.ridge Aug 25, 2013
  • Crowdsourcing as social learning experiences. The act of contributing can be as valuable/educational as the end results. Also, the importance of a tangible result to create value for the participants. Some of the best examples I've seen had very clear goals and visible results that provide validation for participants. - portwayv portwayv Aug 25, 2013
  • It's also important to note that crowdsourcing is often exactly the kind of deep engagement with content that we have long dreamed that digital technologies would offer audiences as covered in this blog post from Trevor Owens at the Library of Congress. Also this is a good overview from Mia Ridge. - JohnS JohnS Aug 26, 2013
  • (- jfoley jfoley Aug 26, 2013) Agree with Don that one of the major issues is letting go-- although there has a loosening of the authoritative voice of the museum at many institutions, there is still a significant gap between where many museums are and where they would need to be in order to accept crowdsourcing as a mode.

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on education and interpretation in museums?

  • Ensure the artificial institutional constructs that silo our institutions dissolve to ensure our continued relevance as a primary source of information repositories of knowledge. - s-sarraf s-sarraf Aug 19, 2013 - don.undeen don.undeen Aug 25, 2013
  • - ssbautista ssbautista Aug 23, 2013 The potential to deeply engage the public with the institution and its collection, and to expand the museum's scholarly pursuits on a global level, facilitating scholarly collaborations and learning. But I think museums have more work to do with crowd sourcing projects that directly impact education and interpretation on a popular level. (- jfoley jfoley Aug 26, 2013) Agreed!
  • Great way to engage the public in the disciplines that underlie GLAM work, and I agree that it is dissolving the boundaries between institutions - people don't care how or why different kinds of historical materials ended up in different organisations - mia.ridge mia.ridge Aug 25, 2013
  • - adrianne.russell adrianne.russell Aug 26, 2013Could be a nice way to address the digital divide that still exists in many communities, providing an avenue for outreach and collaboration.

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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