Design theory for crowdsourcing in the cultural heritage domain

My PhD project, as they tend to do, took a few unexpected twists and turns over the past few weeks, and we have now reached a happier place. For the precious few who care (and yes, that includes my mum), here’s the new and improved state of play…

Crowdsourcing is an online activity that involves outsourcing tasks traditionally performed by specific individuals to a group of people or community through an open call. The success of crowdsourcing initiatives relies on meeting two key objectives: sufficient participation and quality contributions. Meeting these objectives requires an understanding of contextual factors such as motivations to participate, as well as effective project and system design and evaluation to achieve optimal performance.

Non-profit crowdsourcing in the cultural heritage domain, which is performed by unpaid volunteers for the public good, is commonly seen as the continuation of a long-standing tradition of volunteerism. While an increasing number of crowdsourcing initiatives involve cultural heritage collections, crowdsourcing is still in an experimental phase and these initiatives have not always been cost-effective. In addition to common project constraints such as limited time, resources and expertise, project teams are challenged by a scarcity of empirically-based guidance to inform system design and evaluation.

Recent information systems (IS) and computing research on crowdsourcing has tended to focus on commercial crowdsourcing systems and paid little attention to non-profit crowdsourcing. In particular, research on the design and evaluation of websites for non-profit crowdsourcing is very limited, which is a knowledge gap this study addresses.

Non-profit crowdsourcing initiatives that involve cultural heritage collections encompass a wide range of crowdsourced tasks and provide a rich and diverse sample. The aim of this study is to develop and evaluate a design theory for crowdsourcing in the cultural heritage domain, comprised of heuristics, testable propositions, justificatory knowledge, examples, and guidance for application, to support website design and evaluation practice. The study is driven by two research questions: What are the aspects of website design that influence crowdsourcing project objectives in the cultural heritage domain, and how can a new design theory for crowdsourcing in the cultural heritage domain better support website design and evaluation practice than existing guidance?

The study adopts a design science approach and the framework for IS design theory (ISDT) proposed by Gregor and Jones (2007). The study investigates website design and evaluation from a human-computer interaction (HCI) perspective, which prior research has suggested could help to better meet crowdsourcing project objectives.

Digital Humanities at UC

As a proud UC alumna (and ever-grateful DH guinea pig), I’m proud to spread the word that University of Canterbury is all set to deliver New Zealand’s first Digital Humanities teaching programme.

This year the programme will include three taught papers at 300 and 400 level, and opportunities for original postgraduate research.

The papers offered are:

ENGL345 Digital Literary Studies
DIGI401 Introduction to Digital Humanities
DIGI402 Humanities and New Media
DIGI480 Research Essay

To find out more visit UC Digital Humanities

You lucky devils.

New blood at NDF2014

National Digital Forum 2013 was another cracker – any conference that has you agonising over which sessions to attend gets a big tick from me, and that’s just for starters.

As ever, it was bursting with passionate, dedicated and inspiring practitioners, and we were challenged by honest and thoughtful international keynotes.

It’s now that time of year when we need to put our thinking caps on about how we can take NDF to new heights, while maintaining the same positive and vibrant atmosphere we know and love.

For my two cents, I’d love to see more students and young professionals speaking. I think it’s important to nurture those coming into the world of GLAMs and Digital Humanities, and those considering it as an option.

An example of where this was done extremely well was the inaugural Australasian Association for Digital Humanities conference in 2012. Early career researchers who submitted presentation abstracts could apply for funding that covered travel costs and registration.

I was one of the lucky few, and I’ve never been welcomed to a conference so warmly. The organisers made an effort to seek us out and introduce themselves, and they made special mention of funding recipients at the conference dinner.

Perhaps this is something we could do at NDF2014, to encourage more young speakers to participate and share their ideas about our future?

Another idea that was floated recently was including a dedicated session for students and young professionals, which could work well. I suspect that for people new to conferences, presenting alongside peers is slightly less terrifying than speaking alongside established academics and practitioners.

However we go about it, I think it’s important to encourage fresh perspectives, and ensure that NDF continues to be THE must-attend digital conference of the year.