Mar 19, 2009

Crowdsourcing Project at Geological Survey

Card cabinent. Six million Migration Cards are categorized by species and locality (photo USCG)Very cool project from the U.S. Geological Survey to digitize over ninety years of data cards on bird migration.

From Wired Blog
Stored on 6 million note cards stretching back to the 1880s, the records of migratory birds were created by a network of thousands of volunteers who recorded birds' comings and goings, then carefully shipped their observations to the government...

Many valuable datasets remain trapped in paper and untapped by modern researchers in many research organizations. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Database Modernization Program, for example, has already generated 57 million images and seven terabytes of data from old, often handwritten documents. But it's expensive to pay for scanning and transcription, which is where the crowdsourcing comes into play.

"You would normally just hire someone," Droege said. "We would ship it off to a company, and they would enter it into a database for us, and it would all be very professional and cost a million dollars. We don't have that budget so we had to think outside the box."

Jessica Zelt, who is coordinating the three-week-old effort, said that 400 people had already signed up to help. Participants who want to help go through a simple sign up and 15-minute online training, then are loosed upon the millions of cards scanned in the database as image files.--Read the rest on Wired.
Lesson: government doesn't HAVE to do it all. There are people who are willing and able to help out. Just need to ask.

And, if you want to participate on the digitizing project from the comfort of your own home, sign up at the US Geological Survey site.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this! It's a very cool project and I'm glad to see gov't reaching out to the public asking for their help.


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