Local Heart, Global Soul

April 25, 2019

Crowdsourcing Culture…

Filed under: ART,PHOTOGRAPHY,UNITED STATES OF AMERICA — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © copy/paste from Library of Congress website.)

I like to look on the internet for interesting and inspiring arty images.

Some of these are historical photographs and recently I chanced upon one image from the Library of Congress in The United States of America.

As often happens when you are on the internet, once I found myself on the Libraries own website, I started to browse other articles and photographs.

This is how I stumbled upon an excellent idea that solves very large, time consuming difficult problems: outsource them to the public, otherwise known as “crowdsourcing“. In this instance the Library of Congress has a massive volume of documents in books, letters, legal documents, diaries; i.e. paper documents that can not be machine read, that they would like to also have in digital form. All around the world either low, non existent or budget cuts to cultural programmes means that funds for transcribing documents becomes a lower priority when you also need the money to pay staff, conserve exhibits or even just keep the building they are housed in standing.

(photograph © copy/paste from Library of Congress website.)

Obviously the more visitors your museum, library or cultural center attracts, the better you can raise additional funds from entrance fees, souvenir merchandise and the like.

We live in an international digital age however, and physical travel need not be the only way to see exhibits around the world when with a few clicks of a mouse or track pad we can see everything in amazing detail on our computers or phones.

Visitors also buy souvenirs on-line,  so having an on-line presence is becoming more or less essential for museums in the 21st century. The Library of Congress has it’s own Crowdsourcing programme, requesting the public to transcribe paper documents for them. I did a few random clicks on the site so that I could see what it involved and after an instructions page, came across a page in beautiful handwritten script. It’s possible to enlarge the document as much as you wish, also to use the central “<>” tabs to make the original page or the transcribe text bigger or smaller. Other random pages were typed pages or printed text from books.

Later I went back and found more pages, some in a far less neat handwritten hand: one for the detective in you! Another page was in German… so those who are linguists can have a go at those pages. Translations of the text into English are NOT wanted, just an actual digital copy of what’s on the original page, so the transcriber would be writing in German text what they are reading.

I’m not American, but think this is an excellent idea, especially for people who like history,  have time,  want to keep their minds active and  like to learn something new from the documents they would be reading and transcribing. I don’t know if other museums around the world have Crowdsourcing initiatives like this, but who knows, there may be ways that interested people can help them out. Who knows? You might by some chance be one of these interested people. Cultural and artistic organisations are under more and more financial pressure, sharing art and history is a way of contributing and keeping (in my opinion) society balanced and inspired.

(photograph © copy/paste from Library of Congress website.)

(photograph © copy/paste from Library of Congress website.)

(photograph © copy/paste from Library of Congress website.)

(photograph © copy/paste from Library of Congress website.)

(photograph © copy/paste from Library of Congress website.)

(photograph © copy/paste from Library of Congress website.)

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