Happy New Year! I am back from an intense and fun week of crowdsourcing development in Madrid with Daniel Lombrana-Gonzalez, the lead developer of SciFabric

In the past, Daniel helped the MicroPasts team to set-up the Pybossa framework that supports MicroPasts, the first crowdsourcing platform specifically dedicated to archaeology and heritage. Crowdsourcing is the practice of collecting, creating or enhancing data through the completion of initially small tasks completed by relatively large groups of people online. 

Figure 1. Daniel and I, working in Madrid.

Daniel and Chiara, working in Madrid.

MicroPasts was set-up in 2013 as a collaboration between the UCL Institute of Archaeology and the British Museum, with seed funding from the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council. Three years, 179 completed projects and over 2,000 volunteers later  MicroPasts crow
rcing is still very much active andabout to be used to help the digital heritage research undertaken as part of the Ancient Identities project.

This is why, I flew to Spain to meet-up with Daniel and develop three new crowdsourcing templates that did not previously exist on MicroPasts. These templates search for relevant web resources, extract it and allow interested participants online to get involved in the analysis of texts and videos or in proofing the relevance of this web material to reduce or eliminate semantic ambiguities.


Our workspace inside Factoria Cultural.

Daniel and I sat down in the very dynamic and inspiring space of Factoria Cultural, in Matadero, and created templates for content validationtext-taggingand video-tagging. These were also reviewed and recived input from Andy Bevan and Dan Pett, co-founders of MicroPasts and currently advisors on Ancient Identities. 

 The video-tagging template was turned into a first project to:

  • search for short videos (up to 4 minutes long) on YouTube that had been published in the year 2016 and were returned by the “Roman Empire” + Britain keyword combination. 
  • ask people to help categorise these videos by adding ‘tags’ to identify featured topics, people and periods.

Draft version of the newly created video-tagging application.

Together with KateRichardTom and the kind contribution of Andy Gardner, I am now in the process of refining the proposed tags before making the application live. You can however see it in draft on the MicroPasts website.

What I am looking to understand through the video-tagging exercise is how ideas related to imperialism, borders and mobility, and multiculturalism connected to the Roman Empire, its formation and crisis are used in more contemporary discourses on the same topics. And what are the variabilities amongst opinion influencers, political and other groups?

All the code developed for Ancient Identities research is available on the Ancient Identities GitHub account, and can be viewed, download and re-used freely. Lots of impact already from our AHRC Ancient Identities project… after just a few months from the start date!