‘World Class Rapid Digitization of Cultural Heritage’


'In the abundance of counselors there is wisdom', is the wisdom contained by this well-known proverb. These words certainly apply to crowdsourcing, a phenomenon originating from the beginning of the 21st century, in which an organisation uses a large group of people, in other words the crowd, to perform any number of tasks and acquire information. It is used to obtain advice, test innovation, formulate policy and acquire knowledge, amongst other things. Crowdsourcing is the perfect information tool for the national heritage sector, especially in view of the importance of societal involvement in culture.


But what makes a crowdsourcing project successful? How do you appeal to a crowd? Since almost nobody does anything for nothing, crowdsourcing often works on a reward basis. Payment, however, is made in the form of involvement and of being part of a group rather than in the form of money. The input provided by the group usually results in the achievement of an objective. This can be product-related or related to making an item of national heritage available to the public. In order for a user to remain motivated, the applied crowdsourcing tool has to be approachable, user-friendly and possibly even addictive! Often the achieved results are clarified by the individual themselves. It's all about a positive interaction between the site and the participant.

Crowdsourcing projects

What Picturae can do for the national heritage sector is to organise excellent crowdsourcing projects. A good example of this is the VeleHanden project, a highly successful crowdsourcing scheme organised by Picturae at the request of the Amsterdam Municipal Archives. With VeleHanden, everyone can help to make the archives accessible online. Because the 'crowd' is providing the necessary metadata, the Military Registers and Population Registers, amongst others, are now being made publically available. The crowdsourcing platform can be 'hired' by national heritage institutes, and is therefore also available for other projects.

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Jeroen Bloothoofd