The Collective Wisdom Handbook: One Year On

The Collective Wisdom book sprint began one year ago this week, on March 15, 2021.

A Zoom screenshot featuring the authors of the Collective Wisdom Handbook, in which my face is representative of how I now feel upon realizing it's been a full year since we started writing the book.

In light of this anniversary, we wanted to share an update on the project, some statistics on the use and reception of the Collective Wisdom Handbook, and some reflections on our collective work over the past year.

Collective Wisdom workshops

In October 2021, we hosted two one-day workshops that aimed to bring together more than 50 representatives from a number of different disciplines and institutions (including education, cultural heritage, industry, funding agencies, and other digital projects) to discuss the broad research scope within the crowdsourcing field at large and begin building connections between some of the (at times) seemingly oppositional goals.

Read more about the workshops in Mia's post, "Planning for the conversations we want at our online workshops."

Stats, impact, and usage

It is clear from the past year that the themes we have brought forward with this project are of deep importance. The Collective Wisdom Project website alone (launched in October 2020) has reached more than 3,400 visitors, with 6,000 page views from 66 counties.

Since the book's post-review release, we've had a number of practitioners and educators reach out to tell us how they've used The Collective Wisdom Handbook in their courses, workshops, and publications.

As of writing, the Collective Wisdom Handbook has received over 10,700 page views from 3,500 readers. The most viewed chapter so far has been the 'Introduction and Colophon', followed by chapter 3, 'Why work with crowdsourcing in cultural heritage?'. Chapter 10, 'Working with crowdsourced data' has been downloaded most frequently. The majority of visits to the book were direct hits, and most common referrals were from Google and Twitter.

Handbook chapters ordered by number of views (March 11, 2022)

1. Introduction and Colophon728
3. Why work with crowdsourcing in cultural heritage?618
2. What is crowdsourcing in cultural heritage?577
10. Working with crowdsourced data414
5. Designing cultural heritage crowdsourcing projects409
4. Identifying, aligning, and enacting values in your project333
8. Choosing tasks and workflows218
7. Aligning tasks, platforms, and goals212
12. Connecting with communities199
6. Understanding and connecting to participant motivations198
14. Evaluating your crowdsourcing project193
9. Supporting participants181
13. Planning crowdsourcing events147
11. Managing cultural heritage crowdsourcing projects143
Citation and licence104
Handbook chapters ordered by number of views as of March 11, 2022.

What we learned

Through the process of convening both the book sprit and the workshops, we've made great strides towards shifting disparate yet interrelated communities (crowdsourcing, digital humanities, nonprofit/museum sector, computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW)) into a broader international community of practice. We did this not only through the Book Sprint and workshop, but through conference talks, both individually and as a group.

In July of 2021 we (the project PI and Co-Is) gave a talk at the Association for Computers and the Humanities conference called "Writing our way to common ground," where we shared an overview of the Book Sprint as well as the lessons we learned through the process. In October 2021 we gave a presentation on "Working with crowdsourced data" for the Collections Trust conference, the theme of which was "Dealing with complexity."

These presentations have allowed us to think critically about our process setting up and leading these activities in our capacities as project leads, including what we might have done differently if given the opportunity. We were also able to consider what opportunities this process afforded us and our collaborators that we might not have otherwise had access to. For example, a common refrain we heard from the authors of the Collective Wisdom Handbook was that they really valued having the opportunity to write up ideas they had held for a very long time, but hadn't ever had the time to document. We have also heard that it changed how our co-authors approach their work, from reconsidering task design to collaborating on complex projects.

Throughout the process of planning the Book Sprint and workshops, we have used a Slack workspace to communicate. We found it extremely useful for this project, but are aware that Slack can be an unwieldy tool for many, so we also created a Crowdsourcing group on Humanities Commons. Our intent is that this space can be used as a forum for discussion and network-building, as well as serve as a community hub that people can use to share publications, calls for papers, etc.

Next steps

We (the project PI and Co-Is) are currently working on a white paper, in which we will share the Collective Wisdom Project outcomes as well as recommendations on what practitioners and funders can do to support crowdsourcing projects in the cultural heritage sector.

Get in touch

If you've used the Collective Wisdom Handbook for teaching, research, or in the process of creating a crowdsourcing (or other) project, please let us know by emailing Mia Ridge at

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