05/30/2016 _Perspective

The Wisdom of Crowds

Emergence can be defined as a network effect, and it is little wonder that the concept plays a vital role in the theory of net-based media art. [1] The aim of this essay is to show that emergence can also be observed in research processes, even when the scholarly aspect might, at first glance, not be readily apparent.

Crowdsourcing is often introduced in situations of scholarly need where huge amounts of data have to be processed and where the task is too great for unavailable specialists. [2] In order to proceed, the problems must be subdivided in smaller parts, so that they can be approached even by laypersons. This can prove difficult; at other times, it is relatively simple.

Artigo is a crowdsourcing game that invites people interested in works of art to assign them descriptive annotations. These annotations are validated and registered in a database as soon as at least two people submitted them. Such a method helps to avoid deliberately false input. Within the last eight years, 9 million descriptions have been collected.

Most of these annotations, also called tags, making Artigo part of what is generally defined as social tagging, are very simple concepts that in no way seem to correspond to sophisticated scientific descriptions.