Crowd sleuthing featured on local NPR affiliate


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.

Held transcribeathon at Blacksburg Public Library

Dr. Luther and Dr. Paul Quigley hosted a Fourth of July transcribeathon at Blacksburg Public Library to coincide with Independence Day weekend. Ph.D. candidate Nai-Ching Wang and computer science major Liyan Li, both Crowd Lab members, were also on hand to help new users from the local community get started with our Incite software and the Mapping the Fourth of July project. The event also featured a variety of delicious and patriotically themed snacks provided by Andrea Linkous of the CS Department. Thanks to everyone who attended and helped organize!

Held reception for Mapping the Fourth exhibit

We held a well-attended reception at VT’s Newman Library for the opening of our exhibit for Mapping the Fourth of July in the Civil War Era. The exhibit, designed by Scott Fralin and his talented team at VT University Libraries, featured a kiosk to try our Incite software, colorful full-size panels and 3D elements showing historical maps and primary sources about July 4th and the Civil War, a visualization of the project’s many interdisciplinary collaborators, and an introductory video narrated by Paul Quigley:

Another video provides a great overview of the exhibit for those who aren’t able to attend in person. Thanks to Liz McVoy for producing these videos.

More photos of the reception are available on the Mapping the Fourth Facebook page.

Led Creativity & Cognition 2017 Graduate Student Symposium in Singapore

After much preparation, the Creativity & Cognition 2017 Graduate Student Symposium took place on June 27. The event was held at the National Gallery of Singapore. Dr. Luther and Dr. Elizabeth Churchill of Google co-chaired the event. Dr. Luther had to video conference in using Google Hangouts (see photo above) due to flight problems, but otherwise the GSS went off without a hitch. We had 13 talented graduate students working on creativity and computing research join us from universities all over the world. Thanks to Elizabeth and the other conference organizers, the students, and NSF for financial support!

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.

Paper accepted for HCOMP 2017

Our full paper on using crowdsourcing and diagramming to support image and video geolocation was accepted for the HCOMP 2017 conference in Québec City, Canada. Only 29% of paper submissions were accepted for this competitive crowdsourcing conference. Congrats to MS Computer Science alumna Rachel Kohler and BS Computer Science alumnus John Purviance, the first and second authors of the paper, respectively.

Debuted Civil War Photo Sleuth software in Gettysburg

Dr. Luther unveiled our new Civil War Photo Sleuth software to the public for the first time in historic Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The software uses crowdsourcing and face recognition to identify unknown people in photos from the American Civil War era.

On Friday, Dr. Luther demonstrated the software at an invitation-only event for Civil War photography experts at the Adams County Historical Society. On Saturday and Sunday, he joined Ron Coddington (pictured below), editor and publisher of Military Images magazine, at the 44th Annual GBPA Civil War Artifact and Collectibles Show. We had a table set up showcasing the Civil War Photo Sleuth software and invited collectors to bring their historical photos to us for scanning and real-time analysis and identification. Many took us up on the offer, and by the end of the weekend, Civil War Photo Sleuth had created quite a buzz. More photos of the event are posted on the Military Images Facebook Page.

We look forward to improving the software based on the feedback we received and preparing for a wider release. Meanwhile, anyone interested in beta testing can sign up on a new website for the project,

Rachel Kohler successfully defends MS thesis

Rachel Kohler, a computer science MS student advised by Dr. Luther, successfully defended her master’s thesis today. Rachel conducted interviews with geolocation experts that led to an accepted poster at the upcoming Collective Intelligence 2017 conference. She then led the development of GroundTruth, a software tool that uses crowdsourcing to support expert geolocators. She also conducted several experiments showing that crowds can substantially narrow down an expert’s search space. Congrats Rachel!