In an earlier post, I mentioned the University of Iowa’s Civil War Transcription project. To recap, they tapped into “the power of the crowd” better known as crowdsourcing to transcribe a collection of Civil War letters and diaries. By doing so, they saved time and money.
In the lastest development, Civil War Project shows Pros and Cons of Crowdsourcing shows some of the issues that have come up as a result of crowdsourcing.
I found one point particularly interesting and telling — “that projects will have to be marketed in a way that makes it clear that paid staff is not being supplanted by free labor in order for crowdsourcing to be fully embraced by the professional community.”
I think this is a valid point that is applicable to all professions. The fear that employers are going to find even more cost-effective ways to get the same amount of work without less labor.
But, as one who is an emerging archivist, for me, this taps into a larger point — reluctance within the archival community to embrace not only technology but embrace users as well. Sometimes, it feels as if there is an elitism within the profession that does not want to deal with the “unwashed masses.”
I could be stepping on some toes but I think its something the archival profession needs to deal with in order to stay relevant in today’s society.
What do you guys think?