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This is the companion website for the experimental-format session “Crowdsourcing History: Collaborative Online Transcription and Archives,” to be held at the American Historical Association’s 2012 Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois. It’s inspired by a similar website for the American Studies Association 2011 session “War and the Visceral Imagination.”

Where and When

Saturday, January 7, 2012: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Chicago Ballroom IX (Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers)

This experimental session will feature five minute “lightning talks” by a number of scholar-technologists who are studying and working on crowdsourcing projects. This wide array of presenters will enable attendees to get a clear sense of how collaborative transcription projects work, while leaving time for audience discussion.

Session Abstract

Large-scale digitization of manuscript materials has recently made new volumes of primary sources available to a global audience via the Internet. However, transcribing these materials to enable searches or other kinds of algorithmic processing poses a significant challenge in terms of labor required. Scholars and cultural heritage institutions are increasingly exploring the use of collaborative online approaches (also called “crowdsourcing”) as a way to address these challenges.

This session seeks to explore the potential and pitfalls of crowdsourcing as a method for collecting transcriptions and for teaching wider audiences about reading and using historical manuscripts. We seek to bring together public historians, archivists, academic historians, technologists, and other scholars to learn about and discuss these projects and the future of crowdsourcing in the historical profession.

Our experimental format will feature 5 to 8 minute presentations by a number of scholar-technologists who are studying and working on crowdsourcing projects.  As time allows, we will also invite attendees working on similar projects to give short, limited-to-2-minutes “lightning talks.” This wide array of presenters will enable attendees to get a clear sense of how collaborative transcription projects work and to talk about how we might use it in the future. After the presentations, the moderator will facilitate a 20 to 30 minute discussion between presenters and attendees.

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