Public history

Crowdsourcing in Living with Machines: crowdsourcing for engagement meets data science research

21 Dezember 2022

Crowdsourcing in Living with Machines: crowdsourcing for engagement meets data science research
Hands on History talk with Dr Mia Ridge, the British Library’s Digital Curator for Western Heritage Collections.

Living with Machines is a large interdisciplinary research project that rethinks the impact of technology on the lives of ordinary people during the Industrial Revolution and Britain’s rapid transformation into an industrial society. The 19th century was a dynamic moment in the history of English, with vocabulary undergoing rapid changes.

Two different strands of work within the Living with Machines project collaborated to explore how language about machines changed over time. Each strand drew on different disciplinary models for research and practice. Voluntary crowdsourcing (also known as citizen science or citizen history, or crowdsourcing in cultural heritage) and computational linguistics are well-developed fields with established methods and epistemologies.

This talk reflects on how we devised work that was both valuable for crowdsourcing as a form of public engagement, and generated data useful for computational linguistics. How did we manage to reconcile values, align goals and methods to produce outcomes that met the needs of both disciplines, despite these constraints?


Dr Mia Ridge is the British Library’s Digital Curator for Western Heritage Collections. As part of the Library’s Digital Scholarship team, she helps enable innovative research based on the British Library’s digital collections, offering support, training and guidance on applying computational research methods to historical collections. Current projects involve crowdsourcing the transcription of historical playbills, and experimenting with machine learning-based methods with library collections. In January 2020 she was awarded funding by the Arts and Humanities Research Council for 'Collective Wisdom', a project that will capture the state of the art in crowdsourcing and digital participation in cultural heritage in 2020-21.

She is a Co-Investigator on the Living with Machines project, where she leads public engagement with digital scholarship and heritage collections through crowdsourcing. Living with Machines is a major inter-disciplinary historical and data science research project analysing digitised sources at scale to provide new insights into mechanisation in the industrial revolution.

She is a member of several project advisory boards in the fields of digital humanities and digital cultural heritage, and has undertaken peer review for a range of journals and conference programmes. Mia has supervised undergraduate and postgraduate research projects applying digital scholarship methods to the Library’s collections.

Mia has published, taught and presented widely on her key areas of interest including user experience design and human-computer interaction, open cultural data, digital history, and audience engagement and participation in the cultural heritage sector. Her edited volume, ‘Crowdsourcing our Cultural Heritage’ (Ashgate) was published in October 2014.

Her PhD in digital humanities (Department of History, Open University) was titled ‘Making digital history: The impact of digitality on public participation and scholarly practices in historical research’. 


Wednesday, 21 December 2022

14.00 - 15.00

Online. Webex link: