Leveraging collective intelligence: from univocal to multivocal representation of cultural heritage

Publication Date08 October 2018
Date08 October 2018
AuthorLala Hajibayova
SubjectLibrary & information science,Records management & preservation,Document management,Classification & cataloguing,Information behaviour & retrieval,Collection building & management,Scholarly communications/publishing,Information & knowledge management,Information management & governance,Information management,Information & communications technology,Internet
Leveraging collective intelligence:
from univocal to multivocal
representation of cultural heritage
Lala Hajibayova
Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, USA
Purpose After reviewing cultural heritage institutions; crowdsourcing initiatives and tension between
univocal and multivocal views of those who interact with cultural expressions, this paper argues that to
support vibrant and effective crowdsourcing communities while ensuring the quality of the work of
crowdsourcing project volunteers it is essential to reevaluate and transform the traditional univocal, top-
down approach to representation and organization. The paper aims to discuss these issues.
Design/methodology/approach This conceptual paper applies Foucaults powerknowledgeconstruct and
theories of representation to the processes and practices employed in cultural heritage crowdsourcing projects.
Findings Viewed through the Foucauldian lens, cultural heritage professionalsare regarded as active parts
of the powerknowledge relationship due to their direct engagement in the representation, organization and
dissemination of knowledge, exercised not only through the traditional role of cultural heritage institutions as
gatekeepers of knowledge but, more importantly, through the power of representation and organization of the
cultural heritage.
Originality/value This paper provides a theoretical understanding of cultural heritage crowdsourcing
initiatives and proposes a framework for multivocal representation of cultural heritage expressions in which
the voices of volunteers have the same validity as the voices of cultural heritage professionals.
Keywords Crowdsourcing, Collective intelligence, User-generated content, Cultural heritage crowdsourcing,
Foucaultspowerknowledge construct, Representation of cultural expressions
Paper type Conceptual paper
In the era of pervasive internet technologies, users learn to exploitthe potential of networked
communicationto impact cultural production andknowledge consumption and participate in
what Lévy (2000) described as collective intelligence. Lévy argued that the network should
mobilize and coordinate the intelligence, experience, skills, wisdom, and imagination of
humanity.In this rather utopian view of collaborative culture, he suggested that we are
moving away fromthe Cartesian cogitoI think,therefore I am –“to cogitamus”–wethink,
so we are. Thus, heargues, knowledge ceases to bethe object of established factand becomes
a projectin which [f]ar from merging individual intelligence into some indistinguishable
magma, collective intelligence is a process of growth, differentiation, and the mutual revival
of singularities(p. 17). EchoingLévy (2000), Surowiecki (2005)applies Simons (1997) concept
of bounded rationality, i.e., rational choice that takes into account the cognitive limitations of
both knowledge and computational capacity in the individuals judgments and decision
making Surowiecki argues that when our imperfect judgments are aggregated in the right
way, our collective intelligence is often excellent(p. ix). Most importantly, he contends that
the success of crowdintelligence is grounded on the conceptual and cognitive diversity of the
crowd: Ultimately, diversity contributes not just by adding different perspectives to the
group but also by making it easier for individuals to say what they really think(p. 39).
Crowd intelligence has also generated new opportunities for cultural heritage institutions,
such as galleries, libraries, archives and museums, to democratize the traditional systems of
Journal of Documentation
Vol. 74 No. 6, 2018
pp. 1190-1203
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/JD-12-2017-0169
Received 6 December 2017
Revised 17 April 2018
Accepted 4 June 2018
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
The author would like to express my very great appreciation to Dr Sharon Pugh for editing the
multiple iterations of this work.

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