Learning blog #9a: Path not taken

For some time I was thinking that for my paper/portal, I would focus on either 2.0 games as educational tools OR crowdsourcing. As the class progressed, the game idea fell to the wayside, and Becky chose crowdsourcing for her topic. However I did do some scattered research and since I chose a different topic, I’d like to present some of those thoughts here. Consider it “a road not taken”.

One of the moments of crowdsourcing success that really caught my eye was using the foldit program to help unravel the aids virus dna, While I appreciate some of my classmates concerns (feeling that someone else gets credit for your work), to me this was the perfect example of crowdsourcing. Yes, someone will go on to develop expensive drugs someday down the road and proabably make money. But the future is hard to predict, and in the present what we have is many, many people who would not have been able to make a contribution to medical research on their own. Together they can, and even got joint credit on the scientific paper.

Why can’t libraries do that? Some do: I’ve been tracking sporadically various programs at various libraries through this helpful site http://manuscripttranscription.blogspot.com/2011/02/2010-year-of-crowdsourcing.html). New York Public (not surprsingly) is also doing interesting collaborative work on old NYC menus: http://www.crowdsourcing.org/site/whats-on-the-menu/menusnyplorg/4441 I think these cases are important, they give us examples of ways libraries can go beyond “tagging” to develop user content. (What if the entire library was user created content? What does that mean? What does that mean to you? To me? To the community?) Crowdsourcing can definately be an overhyped concept, but of libraries really want to succeed, to survive, they’re going to need the help of their communities.

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