Crowdsourcing

With the internet available to a big part of the human population and with its size bigger than ever before crowdsourcing has become a great way for gathering data and information. The work to be done with the grandness of the Internet is a lot and counting in the new social and psychological sciences to gather data directly from the people without too much involvement is a great way to get things done. Wikipedia is the biggest example of such a project. Everyone uses it as a source of information when wondering and it is all the creation of users putting in information. Of course, a certain amount of editing must be done but it is a lot easier to do once you have a page written out.

It works for many things: open source programs, digitalisation of text, making studies, informing about different places and events all around Earth. Crowdsourcing lets anyone become a part of something bigger than themselves and accomplish more as a part of humanity.

In the case of making text inputs and working with digital texts as a whole, “digital humanities”, crowdsourcing is a very good way to increase the worldwide heritage. With so many texts written before the option for spreading them with super fast speed to all corners of the Earth, there is a great need for help, that doesn’t require any skills. Checking texts for grammatical mistakes, made by softwares, scanning old books, etc. is easy for everyone and there is a need for it.

Here in Abu Dhabi there is a great language barrier, as Arabic is hardly read by computers and many mistakes are found. Also, in the context of NYUAD we have a grand library collection of Ancient arabic texts that most of the world hasn’t yet seen. Making a catalog of these texts would be one way to increase their availability and it can be done using crowdsourcing from NYUAD. On the other hand, having many students fluent in Arabic we can even transfer these texts in a digital format that is accurate and useful to scholars all around the world.

This work would be hard and long, and a great pressure only to the people who know Arabic so using the best part of crowdsourcing – that it is free – will not be an option for this project. Some sort of encouragement should be made in order to find enough participants but even then the numbers will be small and the chance of students carrying out the workload is small. This is one of the biggest problems projects like this, that have a limited target of crowd, face. So instead we can work out something that would help the Western world to get to know the Arabic world, instead of only those interested in Arabic already.

Another suggestion for a crowdsourcing project that can be carried out in the UAE, and with the special help of NYUAD is gathering a “yellow pages” for Abu Dhabi. A lot of tourist guides are posted on the internet but for the UAE they don’t include sufficient information and not many people are doing them. The one option is expats living here, but they have to attend to their lives and work so they don’t have enough time to explore, another is journalists who only come to visit, and the last one, least likely is natives who live here. This is a country with a very closed society so having some way to understand more about it, presented in a pleasant, user-friendly manner, would be a great project.

NYUAD students, and other students who live here because they go to international universities are the best option for crowdsourcing on such a project: we have a lot of free time and travel around a lot, we try to find different forms of entertainment and we also have different perspectives on what is  “fun”, “interesting”, or “cheap”, which will allow for a greater amount of audience to gather. Sharing one’s adventures is a good motivation for people to participate, because people love to talk about themselves. If there is an unified form for presenting information about plans, rating it and etc. it will also be easily categorised (in fact as it is inputted). Such project may face problems of editing because sometimes young people can be too impulsive and write things that are not accurate, so just like Wikipedia there will be a need for editors who will not only have to check the entries but also if possible even visit the places to give a more informed statement on a place, event or series of events.