University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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Human guinea pigs and casual collaborators: Crowdsourcing archaeological data
Anthony Masinton

Last modified: 2011-12-21


As data acquisition techniques become finer and finer grained, allowing for more detailed recording, analysis and eventual interpretation, opportunities and needs arise for dividing both the acquisition and the processing of that data into into manageable portions while maintaining control of the overall project.  Enter crowdsourcing.  While more strictly science-based projects within high-profile organisations such as NASA and SETI have been crowdsourcing their data processing for many years, archaeology has yet to grasp its potential.  This paper investigates crowd sourcing archaeological data from the perspective of two case-studies - one on Bodiam Castle in which the data itself was crowdsourced and one in which a pre-existing large dataset composed of photographs of medieval graffiti was processed by 'the crowd'.  In a 'post-mortem' format, this paper will shed light on what went right and what went wrong and some of the potential pitfalls that archaeologists seeking to crowdsource their own data will need to consider.



Crowdsourcing; data processing; medieval archaeology