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Beyond Collections: Crowdsourcing for public engagement conference 2011




[Programme] [Venue and Accomodation] [Previous Beyond Debates] [ RunCoCo Project]

Figure images/beyond2011.png [Beyong Collections conference header]

2. Beyond Collections: Crowdsourcing for public engagement

A free one-day conference held at OUCS, University of Oxford on 26th May 2011

Our 'Beyond' conference this year will celebrate the joys and challenges of community collections. It will be hosted by the RunCoco project and sponsored by JISC. The conference will be of interest to learning technologists, librarians, museums, community groups, archivists and researchers.

Through 'crowdsourced' community collections the general public or members of a particular group are invited to contribute to a project by uploading their own content or adding information to existing resources. This event will be an opportunity to reflect upon the range of models of crowdsourcing and community engagement projects in higher education.

We welcome colleagues who are involved in digital and community collection projects and our friends and contributors to LTG's annual 'Shock and Beyond' events.

See what happened on the day! The event has been captured in our blog and as podcasts (audio and video of presentations).

Tag your blog posts, tweets, and photos of the Beyond Borders Conference beyond2011

Beyond Beyond

This blog was established to support our conference in 2011. There have been no new posts since then and the blog is now archived.

Robert Ashton, The Barefoot Entrepreneur



We are delighted to announce Robert Ashton as our keynote speaker for Beyond Collections. 

Robert is a published author, social entrepreneur and campaigner. Quirky and clever, humble and human, Robert Ashton is direct and outspoken. He’s also tolerant and always makes time to listen. That’s why he’s called the Barefoot Entrepreneur; fiercely focused on the goal, yet he treads lightly as he goes. 

He blogs at: 

We are pleased to have so many interesting speakers contributing to the conference.  Jane Ellison is Commissioning editor for  BBC Radio 4 and has recently been involved with the British Museum in the  ‘History of the World’. The History of the World website had attracted 16 million page impressions and there are now more than 5,000 objects on the website, with the 500 museums and galleries around the country that are involved in the project adding items from their collection.

Gail Durbin, Victoria and Albert Museum


Gail Durbin manages the website at the Victoria and Albert Museum. She is interested in user-generated content and the V&A website has contributions from users ranging from tattoos, through knitting to recollections of fashions in the 1960s. She is keen for museum websites to be places that foster the interest and expertise of users as well as places to find authoritative museum information presented in a usable form. Gail started her career as a history teacher and has worked in the education departments of Norfolk Museum Service and English Heritage before moving to the V&A in 1991. She was involved in setting up the British Galleries and has published extensively on the use of objects in teaching.



Chris Morgan (Mog)


Chris Morgan (Mog)’s background is in digital storytelling and community-based multimedia work. He is an Outreach Worker for the Welsh Assembly Government’s Communities 2.0 digital inclusion programme which helps community groups, voluntary organisations and social enterprises in Wales do more with technology.  Communities 2.0  is a Wales wide initiative and Mog is based at The George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling (GEECS), University of Glamorgan.

Arfon Smith, Galaxy Zoo


Arfon Smith is Technical Lead at Galaxy Zoo an online project which harnesses the enthusiasm of 300,000 keen amateurs to classify images of galaxies. This has led to further projects following a similar model known as ‘the Zooniverse’ developed by the Citizen Science Alliance. With so many galaxies, the team thought that it might take at least two years for visitors to the site to work through them all. Within 24 hours of launch, the site was receiving 70,000 classifications an hour, and more than 50 million classifications were received by the project during its first year.

Valerie Wallace and Tim Causer from University College London are currently coordinating the Transcribe Bentham initiative.  The Bentham Project is launching an exciting new public engagement initiative – Bentham in the Community – to bring together academic and amateur historians and raise awareness of the life and work of Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832). ” We could never have imagined it to be as successful as it has been. Aside from the publicity generated— and dozens of blog  pieces our users have been responsible for editing over 1,000 transcripts during this time.”

Chris Wild, Retronaut


Chris Wild, aka The Retronaut, runs How to be a Retronaut. According to Chris, a Retronaut is “someone who goes back in time using just perception”. Chris will be talking about his project, The Retroscope, and share with us how he manages it as a visionary, entrepreneur, and time traveller. Chris brings a refreshing breeze of the ‘can-do’ entrepreneur into the issues surrounding the sustainability of community projects in the cultural heritage sector. Chris consults in archives, museums, brands and digital history.

Hope Wolf, Kings College London


Hope Wolf works on the Strandlines Digital Community project at King’s College London. Strandlines explores one of London’s most famous streets, the Strand, and its past and present communities. The project brings together local residents, workers and visitors by means of storytelling. Using digital technologies and techniques from life writing – a creative field concerned with personal life stories – it seeks to foster a more active sense of community in the Strand area.

We are delighted that Chris Batt has agreed to chair the proceedings. Chris is the former Chief Executive of the MLA (Museums, Libraries and Archives Council). As an independent consultant he has undertaken research projects for JISC including a study assessing the value of university engagement with the public in the creation and curation of digital resources. 

Your hosts from University of Oxford will be Melissa Highton of the Learning Technologies Group, Alun Edwards, project manager of RunCoCo, and Stuart Lee, PI on the Great War Archive and Woruldhord. 

Melissa Highton, University of Oxford


Alun Edwards, University of Oxford


Stuart Lee, University of Oxford
Stuart Lee’s thoughts
  1. Crowdsourcing is not new – it’s just that the tools that are now available make it a lot easier for us to do it.
  2. We now have the software to help you put together your collections, and it is open source, so go ahead and use it.
  3. We found that there are a lot of bright, well-informed, enthusiastic people out there who are keen to contribute.
  4. It has been a wonderful experience to put together our collections, but what will be even more exciting is when people start to use them, and see how it changes our understanding of events.