Monday, 23 January 2012

When Crowdsourcing was called TeleCrofting

When Crowdsourcing was called TeleCrofting

Just after the Millennium I had the opportunity to work with the Shetland Isles Museum and Archives. I specified and installed a complete digitisation studio for the scanning of all the black and white glass plate photographs on the island - all 80,000+ of them. You can see these brilliant photo's here and I highly recommend the puffin pictures!

One of the things you might notice if you surf your way over there is the rather good (considering the basic interface) subject and index based searching of images available. Searching by Parishes, photographers and detailed subject searching is possible.

The 80,000+ glass plates had minimal cataloguing information attached to them. So this detailed indexing was achieved by adding indexing search terms and tagging for each and every photograph. There was not the staffing in the museum to achieve this task in any reasonable timeframe. It was done by the local Shetland population, mainly the crofting community.

We called them "telecrofters". This term was coined by the Shetland team led by Tommy Watt and Stuart Moncrieff. Here's how it worked. The images were scanned and uploaded to a private network space. Trained and highly motivated Shetlander's would look at these images on their home computers and add index and subject terms plus tags. The museum staff would quality review these and upload with the images to the Web.

So, back in 2000, we had crowdsourcing in digitisation - we just called it telecrofting.

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