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Crowdsourcing Ukrainian Folklore Audio Project

Crowdsourcing is a popular method for getting a large project done by using a “crowd” of people. Scholars are catching up and using crowdsourcing to complete large-scale projects, and involving the larger community of the humanities. An example of crowdsourcing is Suda On Line, which applies the power of the crowd to translate the ancient Byzantine Encyclopedia. The Ukrainian Folklore Audio Project is a smaller example.

This project will use the crowd (or group in this case) to transcribe or translate recorded Ukrainian audio. The clips are examples of stories, songs and Ukrainian beliefs. Volunteers will check out the audio clips from a website designed for the project. The motivation behind the volunteers is particularly interesting; their cultural pride may be one reason they volunteer. This paper will describe the project as a multimedia example that leverages crowdsourcing. Therefore, in this paper we will

Look at examples of previous scholarly crowdsourcing projects

Crowdsourcing is not a 21st century invention. It has only been popularized by technology that allows the ability to reach a large amount of people easily. An early example of crowdsourcing is the Oxford dictionary. To compile the dictionary request were made of people with specific interests or specialties to contribut to the dictionary by sending in definitions. Current cultural crowdsourcing examples include Suda On Line, Transcribe Bentham, and Project Gutenberg. Both Suda On Line and Transcribe Bentham involve working from digitized primary documents to text in order to organize the information. Project Gutenberg allows people to digitize books and edit those already online to provide free out of copyright works for eReaders. How did these projects influence the development of cultural crowdsourcing sites?

Examine the website created specifically for this project; walk through the translation/transcription process

We created a website specifically for the Ukrainian Folklore Audio Project, for participants to conduct transcriptions and translations of Ukrainian audio recordings. The design of the website was kept simple to meet the needs of the user. Our primary user is about 70 years old and has little or no experience with technology (though they may receive outside help). We adjusted the specifications to provide an accessible site for a larger group of people. A programmer created the website for the project guided by Dr. Natalie Kononenko from the Modern Language and Cultural Studies faculty and Dr. Geoffrey Rockwell of Humanities Computing.

The URL for the website is The homepage contains information about the project and those involved in running it. Along the top of the page is a navigation menu, “About,” “Contact Us,” and “Sound Files.” Web surfers can listen to the audio to try to encourage more volunteers. Participants log in on the right side to a secure level of the site. The site is simple and clear to provide maximum understanding.

Home Page

To access the administration structure one logs in on the main page. There they can create user and administrative accounts. Administrators have control over the audio clips, the categories and the submissions. The administrator edits the translations or transcriptions when submitted by participants. Any work has to be approved before presented to the public on the audio page. There are pages that the administrator uses to monitor “comments,” “problems,” and “questions” which volunteers sent. These options were included in the design to ensure the quality and ease of the volunteer’s experience. Specific information about the volunteers experience using the website will be logged, that information is accessed in the administration site as well. Examples of information we studied include completed submissions by participant, and monitoring activity.

The participants work on a secure site to translate and transcribe. They log in after being approved by Dr. Kononenko and are given a user name and password. They can listen to clips about songs, narratives, and beliefs. When participants have heard a clip they want to translate or transcribe, they can “check it out.” The clip can then not be taken out by anyone else (though they may still listen to any reserved audio). To transcribe or translate users go to “Sound Files” and click on their reserved recordings in the “My Clip” table. There the volunteers can listen to the clip while typing in the word processor supplied. Along the left side are links to send a comment, report a problem, or ask a question. Participants can also add keywords; a link takes them to a separate page where the can choose to add preset key words organized according by category or add their own words. Once the volunteer is finished, they can save the work and then submit it.

Sound Files Page

Discuss the current usage of the site, and the motivation of the volunteers

Conclude with the potential impact of this project on future crowd sourcing projects and how the Ukrainian Folklore Audio Project will expand

Mahoney, Anne. “Tachypaedia Byzantina: The Suda On Line as Collaborative Encyclopedia.” 3.1 (2009): n. pag. Web. 4 Feb. 2011.

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