Category Archives: Open authority

Assignment 5 – Open Authority

Open Authority Make Up Assignment

Bentham Project combines innovation and collaboration

Transcribe Bentham is a collaborative transcription initiative organized and overseen by University College London (UCL) that allows anyone with internet access the ability to transcribe using MediaWiki software. The project is supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Prior to the Bentham Project, the established authority was the people in charge of transcribing documents at historical institutions. The previously established authority was mostly made up of people who had background in the works they were transcribing. In the Bentham project anyone can login and start transcribing. This project gives people the freedom to easily access and choose documents for transcription.

The crowd helps by looking through older documents and transcribing them. Multiple people can transcribe a single document, which makes it easier to fill in missing words in work that’s already been transcribed or start transcribing new work. There’s 9,109 registered users and 42,923 pages. People can choose documents the documents that interest them to transcribe. The MediaWiki software used to power the Bentham project makes it easier for anyone to edit it.

The Bentham Project is open authority, because other than the role of 8 administers, there isn’t a role of hierarchy with people in charge. The public is free to choose and work on any transcription documents they’d like

Keywords: (at least five, separated by commas)

University College London, Transcription, Transcribe, Project Bentham, MediaWiki, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Manuscript, Jeremy Bentham

I found three other major examples of transcript projects similar to Project Bentham.

1. National Archives Transcription Project

2. Davidson College Archives Transcription Project

3. DIY|History by The University of Iowa Libraries

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This is the main page of the Transcribe Bentham Project. On the right it shows the number of pages needing to be transcribed, the number of administers, how many edits have been made, how many registered members, and the number of files uploaded. It looks like an infobox on a Wikipedia page. This box also lets people know that the project is running on MediaWiki software, which is why it feels like a Wikipedia page.

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This is what a typical transcription page looks like. On the left shows lines that have already been transcribes and the ones that need it. That is where people transcribe what they read in the document on the right.

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This is a screenshot of the bottom of the page shows how much progress the project has made and the sponsors of the project. Below the progress bar is a box that shows the top contributors to the project and the points they’ve earned.

NASA Clickworkers and Open Authority

In short, NASA Clickworkers creates an extensive map of the Martian surface.

The NASA clickworkers site allows online volunteers to participate in scientific tasks for NASA. Overall, it makes images of the Martian surface available to the general public, allowing volunteer “clickworkers” to analyze terrain features. It allows these clickworkers to examine shots of Mars, taken by satellites and rovers, and to tag land features. A user is presented with an image of Mars and must either identify craters, identify soil features, or “Map Mars.”


NASA is the established authority behind Clickworkers. Before seeking help from public volunteers, the cataloging would have been done scientists and NASA researchers alone, which could take months to complete.  Engineer Bob Kanefsky created the site and database and scientists Nadine Barlow and Virginia Gulick serve as advisors.

A pilot project was launched in 2000 to see if the public was interested and determine whether or not public involvement could produce quality results. The crowd contributes to the various research projects conducted by NASA. By allowing public volunteers to contribute, projects can progress more quickly than the traditional way because more people are working on a project. Volunteers register as clickworkers on the project’s website to begin contributing. Volunteers have been asked to analyze and catalog images of Mars collected by NASA, working to identify and classify craters and other landforms shown in the images. In 2009, NASA created another site called “Be a Martian” that allows volunteers to help in “Martian Mapping” as well.

This is an example of open authority because NASA (the established institution) is giving the public access to images collected via NASA equipment. Further, NASA is seeking help from public volunteers in classifying and identifying various landforms seen in the images of Mars. Essentially, a major institution is reaching out to the public in a “citizen science” project to help catalog images. At the same time, however, the main goals, ideas, and final authority is still vested in the “temple,” so to speak. The public may be examining and analyzing the images, but the images, the concept of the complete Martian map, and the final say in the project are all under the control of NASA. The public is not contributing any original idea; it’s almost like a giant network of data entry positions.

Some similar examples of open authority include: The Milky Way Project (public volunteers label data gathered by the Spitzer Space Telescope), Galaxy Zoo (online astronomy project to assist in classifying galaxies), “Grand Challenge: Stop Asteroids from Destroying Earth” (NASA challenges private companies to develop technologies capable of stopping asteroids that endanger Earth), FEMA’s Sandy Crowdsource Mapping (volunteers online analyze satellite imagery to identify areas that still need assistance from FEMA)

-Bill Oldham and Ariel Barry


By Tina Lee

What is it?

QRator is an open authority project offering interactive experiences for visitors.

How does it work

QRator is a website based interactive system for better experiences. It developed a method for listing physical artifacts online which made museums and galleries in a more interactive way. QRator allows visitors and public to type in their thoughts and interpretations of the objects belonging to the Grand Museum of Zoology and the Museum of Brands. People could leave their questions or interpretations on Qrator’s website or through sixteen iPads attached to two museums. Once finished and click “send”, people’s interpretations will become the history of the objects. The comments will displayed via interactive system and ultimately appeare beside the artifacts. Thus, people could find their comments through the label beside the artifacts.

The main page of QRator.



What was the established authority?

The established authority of this project is the Museum of Brands and the Grand Museum of Zoology. The Museum of Brands joins the Grand Museum to have one step ahead for their visitors to have the ability to edit their thoughts of artifacts. The museums have the authority to identify people’s comments and choose top questions for visitors to answer. For instance, on the main page of QRator, museum staff choose several popular questions and images of artifacts for public to explore. People could easily access to the passed questions and enroll in current conversation.

Questions Page:



QRator offers a range of questions of the museums to visitors. People could find conversation and questions on the main page of QRator or the iPads attached in museums. The Grand Museum offers a continual program for visitors to engaged in while provides a way to discuss past questions.


How is it open authority?


QRator is an open authority project because it allows visitors and public to post their questions, conversations and even debate on the website and ultimately become part of the history. Since the comments is featured on the label beside the object, anyone is allowed to leave their thoughts and interpretations to the artifacts. Public are also welcomed to enrolled themselves in passed questions while encouraged to raise new questions as well. Essentially, the goal of the museum is to help visitors to rethink museums is not a place for people to visiting and learning, but also creating and raising questions. Positioning the museums as a place of experimentation, conversation and debate.

Two authorized museums:



How does the crowd help?


The crowd are general public online or visitors who are welcomed to have a tour in their physical museums located in England. As the Museum of Brands featuring over 12,000 items, questions are sort by diverse of categories such as cutting class, climate casualties, really rare and unnatural. People are easily enrolled in questions by click on “What do you think?”.


Interactive, Museum, Artifacts, Interpretations, Ipads.

Other similar samples:

Make History a 9/11 memorial museum that people could add their images or stories around the world.

Brooklyn Museum I like this museum especially it’s “Go” project is a typically open authority  project that allows public to upload studio.

Chicago History Museum: the museum that Lori said:”if Chicago History Museum is not an open authority museum, I don’t know which museums is open authority museum.” People could do dozens of things in this museum such as take photos and “history your home” to help collections, etc.


Artifact GR

by Colleen Snow, Chelsea Tufarolo and Merissa Thomas

Artifact GR is an open authority project by which people blog histories of museum artifacts.

This collaborative project is hosted by the Grand Rapids Public Museum in order to generate oral histories and alternative narratives for the 500 artifacts the museum has collected from Grand Rapids, MI.

Artifact GR’s main page:

How it works:

After a professional photographer photographs the 500 artifacts, the museum uploads the images to the Artifact GR website, powered by WordPress. Visitors to the project’s webpage are encouraged to create a WordPress account and contribute their own histories of the featured artifact in the form of a blog post. Anyone looking at the website can see the blog posts and leave a comment. Eventually, the museum will publish a book that features the 500 images from the Artifact Project along with stories from the blog.

Here’s what one collection looks like:

How it’s Open Authority:

Artifact GR is open authority project because it allows the museum to interact with different areas of expertise within the local Grand Rapids community by inviting librarians, freelance writers, and even the President of Kendall College of Arts and Design to submit a blog post. Since the content is featured on a WordPress platform anyone can participate in the dialogue by leaving a comment or link to other websites. Essentially, the point of the project is to engage residents and museum-goers to reflect on the artifacts, by focusing on the process of generating new oral histories instead of settling with one perspective. In addition, the blog site provides evidence of collaboration through its interactivity.

The established authority for this project is the Grand Rapids Public Museum. The museum controls the content, how it is displayed and how visitors can interact with that content (i.e. the artifacts they choose, who can photograph the artifacts, which will be featured on the project’s webpage and which artifacts visitors can blog about versus just viewing).

The “crowd” is the general public invited by the established authority (the Grand Rapids Public Museum) to share their story about one or more of the 500 artifacts displayed on the project’s website. These stories are based on an individual’s interpretation of the object(s) and can be recorded as a written story or an oral history to be shared alongside the photograph in the digital collection. With the help of the crowd, the museum hopes to preserve the area’s unique history.

Here’s an example of a visitor’s blog post:


Artifact, Museum, Stories, Photographs, Michigan

Examples of similar projects:


-Bailey Edelstein, Cameron Meindl, Jeremy Somani

1.     What is it?

Software that collects/distributes crowdsourced information online.

2.     How does it work?

Ushahidi utilizes three programs called The Ushahidi Platform (a mapping tool software used by devices with online sharing capabilities), the SwiftRiver Platform (a program that condenses and verifies real-time data submitted by a crowdsource), and Crowdmap (Ushahidi’s simplified app with similar functions to Ushahidi Platform) to make information transparent on a global and real-time spectrum. Ushahidi is used globally—from covering elections, widespread health issues, or even threats of terrorism in third world countries to weather warnings close to home in Washington D.C.

3.     What was the established authority?

The established authority of Ushahidi can be seen in its original users.  When the app was created, its main purpose was to alert those in Kenya of violence and corruption surround the 2008 election. Such information was usually either filtered or distributed through channels such as government (local and national), government agencies, the United Nations, corrupt officials or even clean governments. Ushahidi has now provided a channel for verified AND uncensored news to be provided straight to people who need it most.

4.     How does the crowd help?

The crowd contributes by uploading their information via their mobile applications or Internet. They can also supply ideas for enhancing the Ushahidi software and more user-friendly through an open forum on their formal website. Ushahidi offers a “Community Hub,” which provides the organized space for users to bounce around these ideas with others holding a unique login to the site.

5.     Three main screen captures

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6.     How is it open authority?

Ushahidi calls upon the public to utilize their personal digital devices (i.e. Palm Pre, iPhone, Windows Mobile, Android and/or the online Crowdmap software) to provide information to the world audience. It is a shareware software that anyone can use to submit any information they deem relevant and newsworthy. Top tier news outlets can regulate the information they share with their consumers, however Ushahidi brings information at your fingertips. Contribution posts are visible to anyone and submitted by the consumers themselves.

7.     Keywords:

Informational platform, crowdsource, de-regulation, news, real-time

8.     Other examples in this genre:

The mapping feature in Ushahidi makes it one of many services in the “crowdsourced maps” genre. Perhaps the most prominent example in this area is OpenStreetMap, which is often referred to as the “Wikipedia of maps.”  Meanwhile, Crowdmap allows users to not only create interactive maps, but also the ability to add media and other captions to the maps they or other users create.

Ushahidi is not the only app doing great things for the people of Kenya and other African countries. Cheetah is a crowdsourced app that reduces crop loss in Africa by providing food transporters, growers and traders with relevant information. The combination of the work done by Ushahidi and Cheetah is truly something to behold, and it can go a long way towards improving millions of lives.  (


Hufsa Kamal, Joyce Lu, Victoria Li.

Here’s it is in six words: Crowdsourcing to identify things through satellite.

Tomnod uses crowdsourcing to identify objects/ places in satellite images. It’s used to solve real world problems, using satellite images to explore anywhere on Earth. Tomnod has been used for many things, such as mapping refugee camps in Somalia and locating two American bodies in the Peruvian and Andes Mountains It’s also been used to find tornado damage during the Oklahoma tornados in 2013. Tomnod was started as a research project by four engineering students who graduated from UCSD. It originally sprung up from a National Geographic project in search for Genghis Khan’s tomb in Mongolia. Courtney Love claimed she found the missing plane through Tomnod..she didn’t.

Established authorities include satellite companies, other official investigators or mainstream news media. For example, a couple of days ago, the Washington Post  reported that a Chinese satellite detected an object in jet search area.

Tomnod users are provided random maps from the search area and whenever they see something suspicious they can drop a pin. When there is overlap for people who are tagged in the same location the most visible areas, they will be reported to the authorities.

Here are three main screen capturesScreen Shot 2014-03-25 at 3.36.16 PM.pngScreen Shot 2014-03-25 at 3.30.17 PM.pngScreen Shot 2014-03-25 at 3.29.18 PM.png

Every Tomnod visitor has access to the updated satellite images and is able to tag what they found to contribute to the campaign…which makes it an example of open authority.

Here are a few key words: Crowdsourcing, Humanitarian, Connect, Satellite, Search, Map, Coverage. Other examples in this genre include Unilever, Nokia, General Mills (GenMil), Anheuser-Busch (AB).


Sam Adams Crowd Crafted Beer

Maggie Klee, Carmen Mouynes, Monika Thomas

1. Sam Adams Social Media Created Beer

2. Sam Adams’ online fan base used Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms to collaborate and vote on a new Sam Adams beer recipe. Anyone could go on Sam Adams’ Facebook page and using an app, choose their preferred beer characteristics. The app was set up in scale-form so participants would slide along the scale to choose their desired degree of color, clarity, body, hops, and malt. The most popular attributes were then developed into the collaborative ale. Named B’Austin Ale, the crowd crafted beer was brewed in February 2012, and sold in Boston and Austin, Texas through March 2012.

3. In the beer industry, master brewers have the final decision as to what recipe becomes the company’s product. At Sam Adams, the company’s master brewers would typically decide the final make up of each beer. The established authority would be the master brewers.

4. The crowd weighed in on several different categories such as color and clarity. Through social media, anyone could voice their preference and the most popular features were the ones included in the final product. Sam Adams hired social media expert Guy Kawaski to create the Facebook application to get thousands of beer lovers involved. The one setback about the actual product is that it was only sold in Sam Adams’ Boston brewery and in some bars in Austin, Texas. From this information we can see that it was a more of a marketing strategy than a plan to implement a new beer since not everyone that participates can access the product.

Screen Shots:

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5. The crowd-sourced beer project represents open authority because anyone could voice their opinion. The expert beer makers at Sam Adams collaborated with beer drinkers to make something shared between the institution and its audience. Sam Adams designed an app choosing what attributes the participants could vote on and then picked the most popular preferences. The established authority designed the project and organized how the masses could voice their opinions and vote on them. Sam Adams had no input in the recipe of the beer, they just assembled the information to create the crowd-made recipe.

6.  5 keywords: beer, Sam Adams, B’Austin ale, crowd craft, Guy Kawaski

7. Other Examples: Lays “Do Us a Flavor,” Mountain Dew “Dub the Dew,” Coca Cola with Maroon 5 “24 Hour Session,” Kit Kat Chunky bars




Open Street Maps

By: Taylor Shaw, Mia Miller and Lola Yang

Open Street Maps is a free editable map of your world.

The site allows users to map or tag familiar places: neighborhoods, communities or shopping centers.

You know your surroundings better than anyone. This site attests to that.

For example, type in American University’s address.

Here’s what we found after keying in the address.

We are very familiar with American’s campus. We noticed that Bender Arena was not label. So we added the tag.

Some places may not show up on the map when you search for them. This just means the area was not created yet. This allows you to pioneer the address or site by adding buildings, streets, monuments and green space.

The crowd is the major contributor to OpenStreetMap. The maps created are in the public domain, unlike Google Maps. The concept of OpenStreetMap is collaborative and relies on different editor for contributions. This makes it similar to  Wikipedia.

OpenStreetMap is open authority because anyone can use the data for any purpose as long as they credit the site and it’s contributors. They can even edit, build on, and alter OSM as long as they keep the finished product under the same license. If you do not register for an account, you will not be able to see any significant data.


Mapping, crowd-sourcing, creative commons,  customizable and FREE.

Here’s a list of similar sites to Open Street Maps: – Maps designed for cyclists, showing cycle routes and infrastructure, and emphasizing useful amenities. – MapQuest Open, Describe and make maps for yourself, share with the world and discover other’s marks on the map.