Crowd sleuthing featured on local NPR affiliate

WVTF & RADIO IQ logo

The Crowd Lab’s research on crowdsourced investigations was featured in an article, Crowd Sleuthing: Harnessing the Power of Crowds, by our local NPR affiliate, WVTF & Radio IQ. Dr. Luther is quoted multiple times discussing the lab’s Photo Sleuth and GroundTruth research projects, as well as general potential risks and benefits of crowd sleuthing. The story also includes an accompanying radio broadcast.

Incite featured on local NPR affiliates

WVTF & RADIO IQ logo

WVTF & RADIO IQ, the NPR affiliate for Southwest Virginia, produced a radio segment and accompanying article about our Incite software and the Mapping the Fourth of July project. The story includes quotes by Dr. Luther and Mapping the Fourth project director Dr. Paul Quigley.

Additionally, Richmond’s NPR affiliate produced a different  radio segment and accompanying article about our project a few days later.

Incite featured in VT News again

Coinciding with Independence Day, our Incite and Mapping the Fourth of July projects were again featured in VT News and on the university home page. The new press release covers the launch of our software and the accompanying exhibit on display in VT’s Newman Library throughout the month of July. Dr. Luther is quoted a couple times, including the following:

“Crowdsourcing is a powerful way to get the public involved in a historical project,” said Luther. “Our project asks the crowd to go beyond simple transcription and think about the meaning and context of these documents. This project allows transcribers to not just learn about the history of the Civil War, but to contribute authentically to new historical research by analyzing the digitized primary documents that cover a wide range of human experiences.”

These projects were also featured in a press release for last year’s Independence Day.

Received NEH grant to expand Incite to WW2 history

Dr. Luther is Co-PI for a new award from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Humanities Collections and Reference Resources program. The title of the project is “The American Soldier Collaborative Digital Archive.” The one-year, $50,000 award will support planning to expand our Incite software, originally developed for crowdsourced Civil War history, to the new domain of World War 2 history. The PI is Dr. Ed Gitre of Virginia Tech’s History Department.

Please read the press release, and the abstract below:

The American Soldier Collaborative Digital Archive is a project to make available to scholars and to the public a remarkable collection of written reflections on war and the armed forces by American soldiers who fought in the Second World War. In the 1940s, more than 60,000 military personnel responded in their own words to questions posed by the War Department’s new Research Branch about their time in the service. These survey responses were analyzed, summarized, and interpreted by a team of social and behavioral scientists, who after the war reported their findings in a four-volume work, The American Soldier (1949-50). While the Branch’s quantitative data was later digitized and is available through the Roper Center at Cornell University and the National Archives, the responses themselves, the very personal words of thousands of soldiers, have long remained available only to those who could to travel to Washington, DC to read the text on microfilm. Ultimately, we plan to build an online digital archive of approximately 72,000 images of the handwritten survey responses and to provide a tool that will allow these images to be transcribed by students, scholars, and the public so as to render the text searchable. In this way, we propose to quite literally write these tens of thousands of personal expressions of soldiers into the historical record. We are requesting $50,000 from the NEH to fund a yearlong planning process for this project that will enable discussions among experts from multiple organizations in military history, social science research, crowdsourced transcription, digital archiving, and interactive web design. By the end of the grant period year in spring of 2018, we will produce a list of any related primary or secondary material to be linked to or included in the digital archive; a document of technical requirements for the digital archive at its largest scale; a robust data management plan for the image and text data to ensure that it is accessible for the long term; an outreach plan to ensure that the project becomes known to willing transcribers and interested researchers; and a set of agreements concerning the work and other commitments required by involved organizations and individuals. This project seeks to contribute to the NEH’s “Common Ground” initiative and within it the “Standing Together” initiative.

Interviewed for IEEE Spectrum article on crowdsourcing

IEEE Spectrum, the flagship magazine of IEEE, interviewed Dr. Luther for an article about running successful crowdsourcing campaigns. Some of his comments:

After a project’s launch, says Kurt Luther, director of the Crowd Lab at Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, collaborators must maintain open lines of communication and remember that contributors are real human beings. Developers, he says, tend to forget.

“Many project owners are software developers who think of the crowdsourced human intelligence in their systems as just another resource, like disk space or bandwidth,” Luther says. But if users are dehumanized and not treated well, word spreads fast through online forums.

Mapping the Fourth of July goes public

Mapping the Fourth of July in the Civil War Era has launched! Mapping the Fourth is a crowdsourced digital archive that explores how Americans celebrated the Fourth of July while their nation was being torn apart. It is built with Incite, a plug-in developed by the Crowd Lab for the Omeka content management system.

This project, funded by the National Archives, is an interdisciplinary collaboration between Dr. Paul Quigley (PI) of the History Dept., Dr. Kurt Luther (Co-PI) of the Computer Science Dept., and Dr. David Hicks (Co-PI) of the School of Education, all at Virginia Tech.

To help promote the launch, Virginia Tech wrote up a wonderful press release that was featured on the vt.edu home page all Fourth of July weekend. Additionally, Dr. Quigley mentioned the project in his op-ed on Civil War-era Independence Day in the Roanoke Times.