Crowdsourcing: Why I Do It

The basic definition of crowdsourcing first used by Jeff Howe (2006) is:

“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.”

I recently attended a seminar on Crowdsourcing and it made me think about why I participate in crowdsourcing projects. There are two key projects that I engage with:

My reasons for partaking in these projects are outlined below:

Enjoyment: Firstly, I contribute to crowdsourcing projects out of enjoyment and hobby. My penchant for editing, problem solving, and writing led me to Wikipedia which allows me to indulge my interests regularly. While Wikipedia is a commendable project for being open access, open to all participants and far-reaching in its applicability to an endless number of interests and topics, it is riddled with mistakes, inconsistencies and poor research. For the teacher in me, it is a goldmine.

One of my hobbies is puzzles. I rarely travel without a books of crosswords, sudokus, word searches, etc. The BLGP is conducive to this hobby as it involves searching, pinpointing, tagging and matching, similar to puzzles.

Skills: Of course, crowdsourcing projects allow participants to develop a variety of skills. The BLGP allows me to become familiar with geotagging software using universal geographic standards. Thus, the cartographic skills I gained during my BA (English and Geography) are refreshed and challenged.

Projects like Wikipedia have taught me how to use wiki mark up as well as practising my copy editing, writing, and research skills.

Open Access: I believe that open access research is of incredible value to academia and the general public. In fact, I think open access projects like the BLGP or the Transcribe Bentham Project for example help to narrow the gap between academia and the public. Open Access is closely related to community outreach which links back to crowdsourcing – reaching out to an undefined community or crowd for assistance and knowledge. If research materials and scholarship are only meant to gather dust in boxes and filing cabinets, then what use is it really?

If those materials are shared and crowdsourcing is used in this endeavour, then the benefits will be multiple and widespread. The moderators of Transcribe Bentham state clearly on their site that their “volunteers are proof that a partnership between the general public and academia works.”

To conclude, crowdsourcing offers a variety of projects that require differing levels of participation and skills. Moreover, the reasons for engaging with these projects can be multiple; personal enjoyment, skill development and ideological reasons can meet within such collaborative projects. This in turn leads, more often than not, to positive, inclusive, and beneficial results.

For a brief history of crowdsourcing, watch the following video:

For more information on crowdsourcing take a look at the following sites:
What is Crowdsourcing?

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

This entry was posted by americasstudies on Monday, October 22nd, 2012 at 6:31 pm and is filed under academia, Digital humanities, Education . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply