Crowdsourcing, scholarship and the academy

The Social Scholar is a free lunchtime seminar series discussing all things ‘social’ within humanities research. We are privileged to have Dr Mia Ridge for our first session of the autumn term talking about the worth of crowdsourcing as part of research projects. This should be a fascinating session, especially for anyone thinking about new research opportunities.

Dr Ridge has kindly answered a few questions for us to whet our appetites.

Mia, please could you tell us a bit more about yourself?

I’ve just started a role as digital curator at the British Library. I recently submitted my thesis for a PhD in digital humanities (Department of History, Open University), titled ‘Making digital history: the impact of digitality on public participation and scholarly practices in historical research’. This research brought together my interests in understanding how people use digital collections and tools, the role of participation in public engagement, and how digital technologies change the work that scholars do. Before my PhD I worked in various museums and heritage organisations as an analyst/programmer.

What are your views on the use of social media and crowdsourcing?

Generally, they’re a good thing. They’ve lowered barriers to conversation, helped people find their way to new research interests, and let people develop hobbies that help create something bigger than themselves. Organisations and academics seem to find them more challenging, worrying that social media wastes time or that asking the public to help is a recipe for disaster.

Finally, what can we expect from you at the Social Scholar?

I’d love to start a discussion about integrating crowdsourcing projects into academic work – there’s so much potential for teaching, and for more participatory engagement with the humanities. But there are also lots of challenges, from finding time for community discussion, to worrying about authority and validation.

Event Details

Title: Crowdsourcing, scholarship and the academy

Speaker: Mia Ridge

Date: Wednesday 28 October 2015, 1–2pm

Location: room 243, Senate House (University of London)

Abstract: This talk will begin with a brief overview of the history and types of scholarly crowdsourcing. It will then discuss projects in which participants moved beyond simple transcription or classification tasks to a deeper engagement with ‘citizen science’ or ‘citizen history’. What kinds of scholarly skills and practices are being learnt, and how, in these crowdsourcing projects? And how does this supplement traditional education in disciplines like history? Finally, the productivity of crowdsourcing projects makes them attractive to organisations looking to digitise or enhance large collections of historical or scientific material, but the ‘crowds’ also have certain expectations about their experiences – what do this mean for academics interested in scholarly crowdsourcing?

To find out more about the seminar please check out our Event Page and register your interest to attend. The seminar is FREE and open to all.

This post was also published on the Talking Humanities Blog

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