A beginner’s step into crowdsourcing

I learnt about crowdsourcing by the joining the Level 2 Advanced Skills ‘Digital Heritage’ module which I am taking at the Archaeology Department of Durham University. As a complete beginner, I stepped into the daunting world (for me) of informatics and technology, a risk I was willing to take for the sake of engaging a wide range of people into the heritage sector. Indeed, using archaeological data and different platforms, the whole tutorial class worked on the creation of a project available on MicroPasts for a 3D photo-masking of a potter’s pivot and square bowl found at Gird I-Bazar -an archaeological site in the Kurdish Autonomous Region of Iraq dating to the Neo-Assyrian period (ca. 900-600 BCE)-. Now this application is ready and you can help with it! Exciting! Involving the public and specialists across the world into the conservation and spreading of our heritage -even when it is not a subject they are familiar with- but also sharing different knowledge and ideas makes this project a wonderful adventure; where anyone can contribute in small or big steps, just as I learned to do it.

So what does our project really consists of? You (any member of the public) are simply asked to log on to MicroPasts, have a look at our instructions and then start the 3D documentation of either the potter’s pivot or square bowl. The pictures are already available online and they require to have a polygon drawn around the object in each of 65 photographs, so as to ‘mask’ or define its outline. The help of the public will allow the rest of the image (ie. the background) to be excluded and to create -by assembling all the polygons into one- an interactive, 3D image. Examples of such sketches can be accessed on Sktechfab. By creating those digital models, anyone can ‘handle’ them without bothering to go to a museum, where the precious artefacts are safely guarded under glass panels. By clicking on the object, detailed notes on specific parts of the artefact will appear which are generally not written on museum labels. And you can have a closer look at them without actually damaging them! There are endless possibilities and I would love to be able to reconstruct an entire room for example, where I would be able to interact with the objects as our ancestors did. It only took a few clicks and step by step, we can all reach for the past…

~ Sarah