The Internet, Policy & Politics Conferences

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Katarzyna Dorota Kopec: Is Crowdsourcing a Model for Cultural Institutions? The Case of Polish GLAM Projects

Katarzyna Dorota Kopec, Tischner European University in Krakow, Poland



Crowdsourcing creates tremendous opportunities as well as challenges. In general, crowdsourcing is about maximizing creativity of the so called crowd, that is, online users via the internet. To put it simply, an organization (a crowdsourcer) announces a problem online, and an individual member of an online community (a crowdworker) voluntarily submit his or her proposal to face an issue and to put forward a solution of a problem addressed. Eventually, an organization chooses one, all or the best-tailored solutions for which a crowdworker gets a bounty (e.g. financial award, self-esteem, economic recognition, social recognition). Broadly speaking, among the crowd are consumers, citizens, or e-volunteers etc. who become more like external employees who take over specific parts of a creative process, whereby this process finally remains under the control of a company (Kleemann et al., 2008). The inclusion of stakeholders in the process of developing new products, services or content forms a general foundation of crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcers take advantage of crowdsourcing ventures due to the delegation of tasks to a wide group of stakeholders in the form of an open web call.

Research question

The recent evolution of the term crowdsourcing makes it possible to apply this phenomenon by a variety of organizations (companies, non-governmental organizations, and public institutions) working in different areas (marketing, innovation, education, culture etc.). Literature profoundly analyses the use of crowsourcing in the case of business where crowd wisdom is essential to solve a business problem or gain competitive advantage. There is a deep exploration of the pros and cons of a type of crowdsourcing called paid crowd work (Kittur et al. 2013; Kleeman et al. 2008; Acar and Ende 2011; Aitamurto et al. 2011). Can the same be observed in the public sector or the third sector? To answer this question the paper looks at how and why crowdsourcing is adopted in these sectors on the example of the arts and culture. In particular, the study explores how crowdsourcing practices are adopted by GLAM institutions (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums). In fact, they progressively discover crowdsourcing. Why do they include such activities in their operation? Are they open to novel crowdsourcing initiatives? What are the pros and cons of this approach? 
The analysis will be based on three case studies from Poland:
1. the project Open Monuments (Otwarte Zabytki) carried out by the Digital Centre Project: Poland (Centrum Cyfrowe Projekt: Polska), 
2. the project Digital Archives of Local Tradition (Cyfrowe Archiwa Tradycji Lokalnej) run by the KARTA Centre, 
3. the project Open Zachęta (Otwarta Zachęta) of the Zachęta Polish National Gallery of Art.

The aim of this paper is to shed light on crowdsourcing practices in the GLAM sector, thus to shape innovative patterns of collaboration between organisations of the arts and culture and their audiences. The paper also covers controversies that appear in the context of crowdsourcing. The final part shows prospective research directions in the domain of crowdsourcing in the GLAM sector.

Methods and Data
The paper refers to relevant literature on crowdsourcing (Brabham 2013; Estellés-Arolas and González-Ladrón-de-Guevara 2012) including crowdsoursing initiatives in the digital humanities (Oomen and Aroyo 2011; Simon 2010; Carletti et al 2013; Alam and Campbell 2012). However, in-depth interviewing is the main method to collect data for the study. The interviews with managers in charge of the above mentioned GLAM projects are completed by the exploration of projects’ websites. 

Main findings
This article signalizes major trends in adopting crowdsourcing by cultural institutions: 
1. Knowledge discovery and management approach (according to the Brabham’s taxonomy) is a basic crowdsourcing type used by cultural institutions. In this case the organization manages the process of knowledge discovery (what information is needed, its objective etc.). 
2. Crowdsourcing is in general based on active involvement of the so called crowd. In the GLAM sector it means to encourage engagement of a group of members (in other words to empower a group of members) to improve the data and develop ways of making use of them. 
3. A challenge for GLAM institutions is to rethink their missions of which two basic elements are to disseminate culture and make their content accessible to the public. There is a need to merge traditional models of GLAM institutions and novel participation forms in the arts and culture. Therefore GLAM institutions more and more frequently test various forms of how to make collections accessible online to the public.

Katarzyna Dorota Kopec