GroundTruth: Supporting Image Geolocation with Crowdsourcing and Diagramming

This project investigates how crowdsourcing can be used to identify or verify the specific geographic location where photos were taken. For example, a journalist may need to verify photos posted on social media for a new story, an intelligence analyst may need to track down the location of a terrorist training camp, or a museum archivist may need to identify historical photos in their collections. We are studying how novices and experts perform image geolocation tasks in order to understand the mental models they create, the image clues they use, and the challenges they face. We are also developing new software tools that leverage crowdsourcing and expert diagrams to support faster, more accurate image geolocation in a variety of domains.

Photo Sleuth: Supporting Historical Research with Crowdsourcing and Computer Vision

This project, a collaboration between Computer Science, History, and Military Images magazine, seeks to recover the lost identities of portraits of the American Civil War generation. The popularity of photography exploded in the United States during the 1860s as Americans went off to war. Today, 150 years later, thousands of these photos have survived, but relatively few are identified to particular individuals. We are developing new techniques combining crowdsourcing and computer vision, including face recognition technology, to piece together visual clues from photographs and research from historical sources to solve these mysteries. Visit for details.

CrowdIA: Supporting Intelligence Analysis with Crowdsourcing and Context Slices

This project explores how crowdsourcing can be used to help an intelligence analyst find connections within a large body of text-based evidence. For example, an analyst may have access to dozens of evidence documents, and needs to identify a hidden terrorist plot that links the evidence together. We have developed the concept of “context slices,” in which we intelligently divide up large amounts of text so that transient, novice crowd workers can contribute to solving the bigger mystery. From these ideas, we have developed CrowdIA, a web-based system that supports solving mysteries in text documents using crowdsourced sensemaking.

CrowdLayout: Improving Biological Graph Visualizations with Crowdsourcing

This project investigates how crowdsourced design can be used to improve visualizations of biological graph data. Many types of life sciences research generate graph data, but meaningful visualizations are hard to achieve with automatic graph layout algorithms, and time-consuming for experts to create manually. We have developed CrowdLayout (formerly GraphCrowd), a system that allows novice crowd workers to design and review biological network layouts as effectively as experts. CrowdLayout is an extension of GraphSpace, an online hub developed at Virginia Tech where researchers can easily share and visualize biological network data.

Incite: Supporting Historical Research and Education with Crowdsourcing

This interdisciplinary collaboration between Computer Science, History, and Education investigates how a crowdsourcing system can support historical scholarship while helping crowd workers learn about history. We created Incite, a system that combines crowdsourcing with natural language processing techniques to help expert scholars find relevant primary sources in an digital archive. Incite was developed as a plug-in for the open-source Omeka content management system used by many museums and galleries. We have deployed Incite in high school and college classrooms across the US as part of two digital humanities projects, Mapping the Fourth of July in the Civil War Era (funded by the National Archives), and The American Soldier in World War II (funded by the NEH).