Blog Post

Activism & Crowdsourcing

Activism & Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing and activism pair beautifully. There is power and numbers, and when it comes to activism, there is a lot of work that goes into researching, organizing, and mobilizing. 

I searched the web for crowdsourcing project that had to do with activism. In my search I came across different types of crowdsourcing projects. What's on the menu? was established in 2011, and works through the New York Public Library. They are transcribing historical restaurant menus, dish by dish, so that they can be searched by what people were eating back in the day. Movements focuses on crowdsourcing human rights, and opening closed societies. The Hurricane Digital Memory Bank welcomes contributions from survivors, first responders, relief workers, family, friends, and anyone with reflections on the hurricanes and their aftermath. Their project focuses on hurricane Katrina and Rita. 

The project I decided to contribute to was DIY History. "The goal of DIY History is to make historic artifacts more accessible – both by enhancing catalog records for greater ease in searching and browsing, and by engaging the public to interact with the materials in new ways." I transcribed a newspaper clipping from 1966 about Dr. Philip G. Hubbard. I found this article using the "Transcribe by Topic" tab and selecting "Social Justice." The transcribing work that is done for this project is in order to make older documents searchable and easier for research. I am not sure that this data would have been lost if I did not transcribe it, because there are digital images uploaded online, but my work did make the document searchable, which was not possible before. This felt like activism because of the topic I was transcribing, but it did not really feel like activism because I was simply typing words that were on a page.

DIY History claims that 74,431 pages have been transcribed! Many hands really do make light work!



In the context of your project, crowd-sourcing is a form of collaboration on the internet which works towards a certain goal. Projects like "What's on the menus?" or "DIY History" have specific missions that they are working towards, and would likely only be financially feasible to accomplish through the volunteer labor of crowd-sourcing. Often, the crowd-sourcing component is something like transcription which allows for far greater accessibility to a wider audience. 

Does the DIY History project have certain criteria for the documents which they upload, or can users upload documents of interest as well as part of the crowdsourcing? Does the project direct participants towards certain artifacts to be transcribed?


Hey Amara! I know you also have another partner working with you and commenting, so I'll keep mine short and sweet! Based on your blog post, and contribution to DIY History (looks awesome!), my thoughts about the definition of crowdsourcing involves the inputs of many people, a crowd, advancing a unifying goal/task that is largely made by possible using the internet.


--How are people recognized for contributing to the project as part of the crowdsource? Are volunteers recognized by the organization/are people keeping records and following up with participants to keep them involved?

--How are contributions checked/edited/do they go through quality control before being available to the public?