Using the Digital to Engage Archival Radio Collections

A Panel and Workshop on Sound Studies & Digital Humanities Crowdsourcing Strategies

Understanding the contents of institutional and digital collections and their connections to other related material can be daunting. Increasingly researchers, institutions and a broader public can work together, using crowdsourcing and linked open to meaningfully enrich and connect collections. This panel and workshop, planned in conjunction with the 2017 Radio Preservation Task Force Conference, will focus on innovative workflows for crowdsourcing linked data to build a web of data that can bridge collective heritage. Both researchers interested in learning to access more information about radio collections and collection managers will benefit from this cross-disciplinary event. Panelists will discuss their work and research in crowdsourcing or linked open data for radio collections. Subsequently, a two-hour workshop will introduce the core principles behind the data structure and framework for Wikidata, and demonstrate how it can be used to connect archival radio collections to a broader web-based community of knowledge. Moderator: Stephanie Sapienza (​Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities)


Alex Stinson (Wikimedia Foundation) will highlight how Wikidata is being used by diverse cultural heritage organizations around the world, including by the Archive of the Finnish Public Radio organization (Yle), the Social Network of Archival Collections (SNAC), and by other heritage organizations as diverse as the Metropolitan Museum and university libraries working to make their collections better connected with the world of linked open data through Wikidata. Casey Davis Kaufman and Karen Cariani (WGBH Boston/American Archive for Public Broadcasting) will showcase the their IMLS-funded crowdsourcing project FIX IT, an online game that allows members of the public to help AAPB professional archivists improve the searchability and accessibility of more than 40,000 hours of digitized, historic public media content. Eric Hoyt (University of Wisconsin-Madison) will reflect on his work developing the Media History Digital Library's search platform, Lantern, and data mining application, Arclight. He will also discuss methods that users can use to translate their data into new queries and interpret and share the results. Effie Kapsalis (Smithsonian Institution Archives): will share the Smithsonian Institution Archives' (SIA) methods for enriching and sharing their collections through crowdsourcing, with a particular focus on the institutional challenges of implementing such projects. Since 2005, SIA experimented with publishing minimum metadata about little-known women in the history of science, and recruiting constituents on various platforms (blogs, institutional websites, Flickr Commons, Wikipedia, Smithsonian Transcription Center) to fill in the 'unknowns.' These experiments have led to rich collections records on the Smithsonian's websites, complete Wikipedia articles, and improved digital resources on female scientists for the public. Today SIA is leading a pan-Smithsonian pilot to make a large contribution to Wikidata.


In the workshop, we will provide a basic introduction to Wikidata and then use Wikidata to develop more robust context for an archival radio collection. We will connect Wikidata with authority records pulled from descriptive metadata about the National Association of Educational Broadcasters (NAEB) collection at the University of Maryland/American Archive of Public Broadcasting. We will use that linked data to demonstrate visualizations and other potential applications of Wikidata for research, including unearthing other authority records and digital web resources about people, places, and other entities, showing network relationships between various metadata items, and asking questions to better understand the context of the collection.

About Wikidata

A sister project of Wikipedia, Wikidata is a human and machine readable platform that allows for crowdsourcing to enrich metadata and access linked open data content from free and open vocabularies and data projects, such as the Getty vocabularies, the Social Network of Archival Content (SNAC), and others. Wikidata maintains many of the dynamics of the widely popular encyclopedia: it's free and open, editorial decisions are made by the community participating in the project, and the content is multilingual, supporting hundreds of languages.



Alex Stinson
Wikimedia Foundation
Andrew Lih
Independent Scholar/Author
Casey Davis Kaufman
Associate DirectorWGBH Media Library and Archives
Eric Hoyt
Associate Professor of Media and Cultural Studies; FilmDepartment of Communication ArtsUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
Effie Kapsalis
Senior Digital Program OfficerSmithsonian Institution