New and emerging technology-enabled models of participation through VGC: 1 Mia Ridge and Crowdsourcing

Last Friday I spent the day in Leicester for the 2nd day of  ‘The Shape of Things: New and emerging technology-enabled models of participation through VGC’ conference at the school of Museum Studies, part of the AHRC-funded iSay project focusing on Visitor-Generated Content (VGC) in cultural heritage institutions.

It was a fabulous conference, and perfectly timed for my PhD research, the organisers, Giasemi Vavoula and Jenny Kidd, did a great job on the conference programme with a great combination of academic papers and practical case studies.

Firstly to be honest, I haven’t really used the term Visitor Generated Content (VGC) before. I don’t really like the term User Generated Content (UGC) and swapping user for visitor doesn’t solve my dislike of the term. But I can see why as terminology both work.

Mia Ridge has already blogged her notes from both days of the conference and there will be lots on the conference blog, so these are my notes of useful concepts that I found helpful for thinking about my own PhD research. I’m splitting it into several posts other wise it will go on and on! Up first is:
Mia Ridge: The gift that gives twice: crowdsourcing as productive engagement with cultural heritage

I really enjoyed Mia’s keynote, she managed to fit lots in in a relatively short space of time. Mia focused on the different ways of thinking about crowdsourcing in cultural heritage, both in terms of the process and the outcomes.

  • Cognitive circus. The spare processing power of millions of humans brains. (edit – Mia has pointed out its cognitive surplus. However I feel cognitive circus is a much better term!)
  • Difference between VGC and crowdsourcing.  When there’s no clearly defined direction, shared goal or research question? This is not crowdsourcing – blurry definition.
  • The importance of creating a space for curiosity
  • The act of  looking creates a relationship with objects
  • Participatory project models -Contributory – the public contributes data to Aerojet designed by the organisation; Collaborative – both active partners, but lead by organisation and Co-creative – But who really has agency?
  • The ethics of crowdsourcing, Leveraging public participation driven by pleasure , not profit
  • Semantic gap, language used to describe objects, is not the same as the search and collection
  • Who participates in crowdsourcing? – Super contributors and drive-bys
  • Crowdsourcing before the web- 19th century natural history collection: 1849 Smithsonian
  • The OED was crowd sourced
  • Long history of crowdsourcing, but transformed by technology

Some useful Crowdsourcing Case Studies

  • Types of Crowdsorcing content: Images multimedia, game levels, research, object identification, family records, objects, documents, the list is en
  • Productive engagement
  • Definitions of engagement are a bit naff
  • What’s ‘engagement’?
  • attending
  • participating
  • deciding
  •  producing
  • Levels of engagement in citizen science –
  • level 1 participating in simple classification tasks
  • Level 2 participating in community discussion
  • Level 3 working independently
  • Crowdsourcing as a gateway to father activity
  • familySearch ‘stepping stones’ -Indexing and then can move to arbitration. Clear progression.
  • Motivations for participation -Altruistic, intrinsic, extrinsic
  • Validating procrastination and Enhancing the visitor experience

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