Employing digital crowdsourced information resources: Managing the emerging information commons

New Paper by Robin Mansell in the International Journal of the Commons: “This paper examines the ways loosely connected online groups and formal science professionals are responding to the potential for collaboration using digital technology platforms and crowdsourcing as a means of generating data in the digital information commons. The preferred approaches of each of these groups to managing information production, circulation and application are examined in the light of the increasingly vast amounts of data that are being generated by participants in the commons. Crowdsourcing projects initiated by both groups in the fields of astronomy, environmental science and crisis and emergency response are used to illustrate some of barriers and opportunities for greater collaboration in the management of data sets initially generated for quite different purposes. The paper responds to claims in the literature about the incommensurability of emerging approaches to open information management as practiced by formal science and many loosely connected online groups, especially with respect to authority and the curation of data. Yet, in the wake of technological innovation and diverse applications of crowdsourced data, there are numerous opportunities for collaboration. This paper draws on examples employing different social technologies of authority to generate and manage data in the commons. It suggests several measures that could provide incentives for greater collaboration in the future. It also emphasises the need for a research agenda to examine whether and how changes in social technologies might foster collaboration in the interests of reaping the benefits of increasingly large data resources for both shorter term analysis and longer term accumulation of useful knowledge.”