Digital Humanities at Berkeley is pleased to announce the Crowdsourcing and the Academy symposium is accepting proposals through August 16, 2015. Though crowdsourcing is commonly associated with citizen science, the digital humanities are rich with examples of crowdsourcing projects. The Transcribe Bentham project, which began in 2010, serves as an early example of crowdsourcing efforts in DH. Later examples include the Ancient Lives project, which transcribes Greek papyrii, and Metadata Games, which invites users to describe collections by playing games. A growing community of interest is gathering and engaging in discussion around crowdsourcing through CrowdConsortium, a national organization to support research and deployment of crowdsourcing for cultural heritage institution. At UC Berkeley, DH Fellow Nick Adams, uses crowdsourced annotation and supervised machine learning to study protester and police interaction. His collaborative open source project, Text Thresher, will make it easier to enlist the help of crowdworkers and volunteers for content analysis. We invite the DH community to distribute the CFP widely.

Crowdsourcing and the Academy: Exploring promises and problems of collective intelligence methods in humanities and social science research


Organized by the Humanities and Social Sciences association (HSSA) 

Co-sponsored by the Visiting Scholars and Postdoc Affairs Program (VSPA), the Division of Arts and Humanities and Digital Humanities at Berkeley, Berkeley Institute for Data Science (BIDS), and the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, & Society (CSTMS)

Academic research has long depended on the public for data collection and interpretation, as in the case of citizen science, where local expertise is vital to understanding environmental phenomena. The Internet has produced new forms of collective intelligence, which industry and other actors have been quick to recognize. Companies like Threadless and iStockphoto, as well as sites like Google and Wikipedia, are models built on the “wisdom of crowds” that emerge from what Yochai Benkler calls “hybrid media ecologies.” Virtual collaborators fill out surveys, transcribe audio, code video, and provide editorial content.

Increasingly, humanities and social science research is turning to networked knowledge production, enabling new scales and modes of public participation in academic research. This symposium will explore the state of crowdsourcing in the social sciences and humanities. What are its premises, promises, and risks? How rigorous and reliable is crowd intelligence? What are the implications for meanings of expertise? What labor practices does it generate or displace? What communities are formed by academic crowdsourcing? And how does it change the relationship between the public and academic research?

The half-day event will open with an introductory keynote presentation, to be followed by two panels, and close with a buffet lunch. Panel 1,Talking from experience, will feature scholars who will discuss their work using crowdsourcing methods, and the relationship between project designs and outcomes. (See the Call for Proposals link below for an invitation to submit an abstract.) Panel 2,Theoretical considerations,will explore the cultural and social implications of crowdsourcing in the humanities and social sciences. A central aim of the sessions is to theorize the connection between concrete aspects of project design and the ramifications for academia and the civic domain.

We invite all levels of scholars interested in or already engaged in crowdsourcing projects in the humanities and social sciences. The aim is to educate, question, provoke, and foster exchange between practice and theory. We look forward to your participation!

Important Dates:

September 18, 2015 “Talking from Experience” panel proposals due
September 23, 2015 Notification of selected panelists
November 6, 2015 Day of symposium

Please pre-register for the symposium here:


This call for abstracts for the panel “Talking from experience” targets an audience of scholars, educators (of all academic levels), practitioners, and designers currently or recently engaged in crowdsourcing projects. Contributions are welcome from all fields in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, on all aspects of crowdsourcing research, including, but not limited to, the following topics:

  •  Digitization of data through crowdsourcing
  • Gathering data through crowdsourcing
  • Analysis and interpretation of data through crowdsourcing
  • New ways of communicating research results using crowd labor

We ask panelists to speak about their experiences of engaging with the crowd: What research possibilities are opened up by it? How is the project designed? How is responsibility distributed? How is reliability of information defined? What challenges does crowdsourcing pose? 

Please submit a brief abstract in pdf format, no later than September 18, to

Include the following information:

  • Name of the project and hosting institution
  • Project participants and contact information of presenter
  • Project website, if available
  • A description of the project (no more than 400 words) that briefly describes the project, methods and objectives
  • A brief professional biography (not exceeding 500 words)

 Selected panelists will be notified September 6, 2015.