Does changing structure change meaning? If knowledge is produced in an unconventional way, does that change the validity of the information? These are questions that the readings for the upcoming Digital Scholars Group grappled with. Crowdsourcing changes the method of gaining information and can change the message that is produced.
In Crowdsourcing Our Cultural Heritage, Mia Ridge references Jeff Howe’s definition of Crowdsourcing: “Crowdsourcing is the act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call (Ridge 5).” She specifies that Crowdsourcing is often spoken about as ‘outsourcing’ and often loses ethos by defining it in this way. She also show’s Howe’s “’soundbyte’ definition of crowdsourcing – the ‘application of Open Source principles to fields outside of software (Ridge 5).’” Within these two definitions, one can see the major tensions latent in crowdsourcing. It helps get work done in a quick and efficient way while being more open and transparent to the public; however, scholars must lose partial control over the intellectual property. This open source nature is something Digital Humanists praise, while also wanting to hang onto their intellectual needs.
Ridge speaks about how crowdsourcing can engage audiences. Specifically, if the mission of an organization is to educate or engage the community, crowdsourcing seems an obvious choice. However, the underlying problem is still the same. Engaging the community requires archivists to decide what level the crowd should have in their project. Should they just contribute, be collaborative, or co-creative? Each level both gives and takes something away from the project.
In Transcription maximized; expense minimized? Causer et al. deals with some of the same problems Ridge spoke about. In their crowdsourcing project of transcribing The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham they used a process where volunteers would transcribe Jeremy Bentham’s work and a staff member would check the transcriptions for accuracy. This process seemed to fit most closely to Ridge’s contributing crowdsourcing. Volunteers are almost students in this method of crowdsourcing, where their work has to be checked by a professional. The professional scholar then gives feedback to the volunteer. This method was not cost effective, though Causer et al. believes it would have become effective over time if allowed to continue. Yet, does this type of overhead revision defeat the overall purpose of crowdsourcing? Are there other ways to make sure crowdsourcing is effective and cost-effective?
Voss et al. brings a new light to crowdsourcing by approaching the concept through partnerships. They seek to primarily engage the community in knowledge sharing activities. Voss et al. specifically chooses the communities they work with based on the knowledge they possess. The team slowly builds a relationship with these knowledge communities over time, and this develops a sense of trust and respect. Voss et al. finds projects by using strategic partnerships to fit “the needs of the communities with the aims of the project (Voss 4.2.2).” Not only is knowledge gained through these projects, but community is built.
Art is an experience, and changes in experience can change the meaning derived from art. Battles and Maizels look at how differences in portraying artwork across different digital mediums change user interaction and experience. Have scholars created a flattened version of art by placing it into a new medium? Will scholars lose something by bringing crowdsourced material to the public in this new possibly unintended medium?
Battles, M. and Maizels, M. (2016). Collections and/of Data: Art History and the Art Museum in the DH Mode. Debates in the Digital Humanities(open-access edition) [http://dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu/debates/text/78]
Causer, T., Tonra, J., & Wallace, V. (2012). Transcription maximized; expense minimized? Crowdsourcing and Editing The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham, Literary and Linguistic Computing, Volume 27, Issue 2, 1 pp. 119-37 [https://doi-org.proxy.lib.fsu.edu/10.1093/llc/fqs004] FSU access
Ridge, M. (2014). Introduction to Crowdsourcing our Cultural Heritage. In Crowdsourcing our Cultural Heritage (pp. 1-16). London: Taylor & Francis, Inc. [https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.proxy.lib.fsu.edu/lib/fsu/reader.action?docID=1774187] FSU access
Voss, J., Wolfenstein, G. & Young, K. (2015). From Crowdsourcing to Knowledge Communities: Creating Meaningful Scholarship through Digital Collaboration. In Proctor, N. & Cherry, R. (Eds). Museums and the Web 2015. Silver Spring, MD: Museums and the Web [http://mw2015.museumsandtheweb.com/paper/from-crowdsourcing-to-knowledge-communities-creating-meaningful-scholarship-through-digital-collaboration/]