Sara and Ben Brumfield
Sara and Ben Brumfield

Our April Instructor Spotlight is Sara Brumfield. Sara and her partner Ben are teaching Your First Crowdsourcing Project on April 13.  

Sara is a software engineer and entrepreneur. She co-founded FromThePage, a crowdsourced transcription platform that allows institutions to share documents for transcription. The open-source tool FromThePage has been used by libraries, museums, and universities to transcribe literary drafts, military diaries, herpetology field notes and punk rock fanzines. Since its creation in 2005, the community on FromThePage has transcribed more than 1,000,000 pages from universities, museums, and archives. Today, FromThePage works with institutions from all over the globe. Harvard, Stanford, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the state archives of Alabama, North Carolina, and Maryland are just a few institutions that have used our software to engage the public and enhance their collections. Prior to founding FromThePage, Sara spent 17 years as a software engineer with IBM, inventing or co-inventing eight patents. She has a BA in Computer Science and the Study of Women and Gender from Rice University.

We recently "met" with Sara as part of our Instructor Spotlight Series. Learn more about Sara here:

What inspired you to write and build a class on Crowdsourcing?

We love crowdsourcing — our mission is "Democratizing the production of history in a grand collaboration between the public and professionals." which sounds grandiose but we really do believe in it. The public wants to help, they want deep interactions with your material. We all love doing meaningful work — volunteers as much as the archivists who manage these collections.

Not to give anything away from the class beforehand, but what is one aspect of the class you hope students learn or find valuable?

Crowdsourcing is not as much work as you think! You can get a project started with just a bit of volunteer recruitment and a bit of configuration.

Can you share more about FromThePage – the tool, how one can use it and how one can become a part of the community of users?

For public projects, anyone can sign up and just jump in to transcribing or indexing. Our model is based on Wikipedia's collaborative knowledge creation, so you can always go back and fix mistakes or start by reviewing someone else's work. While most of our transcribers are retirees, I'm always surprised when I hear from archivists and librarians who do this for fun, too.

Finally, for fun, what are you currently watching, reading, or listening to that you’d recommend to us?

I'm enjoying the 3rd season of Vienna Blood on PBS. It has a great police archivist and great eye-candy of Vienna at the turn of the century (including a natural history museum!).