Human Computation & Crowdsourcing: Spring 2014


Matthew Lease


University of Texas at Austin


Spring 2014


This graduate seminar will read survey recently published research in Human Computation and Crowdsourcing. Note that crowdsourcing has a wide range of meanings beyond what will be covered in the course; we will focus on human computational aspects.

The rise of today’s digitally-connected, diverse, distributed online population is creating a new way of organizing/performing digital work, as well as building information systems. Crowdsourcing describes outsourcing tasks to large numbers of people in order to leverage the wisdom of crowds. Crowdsourcing platforms such as Amazon Mechanical Turk have gained particular attention as active online marketplaces for connecting with the largely under-utilized global workforce. Crowdsourcing offers intriguing new opportunities for accomplishing different kinds of tasks or achieving broader participation than previously possible, as well as completing standard tasks more accurately in less time and at lower cost, while simultaneously providing new opportunities to workers (e.g. to have fun, to to find employment in economically-depressed or politically-unstable geographical areas, etc.). See SamaSource, created by a former PeaceCorps member after visiting political refugee camps.

Crowdsourcing represents a new intersection of people and technology with corresponding new challenges and opportunities. Since crowdsourcing is ultimately about working with people, it incorporates issues of developing effective design for human factors and human-computer interaction (HCI), as well as issues of economics and ethics. With regard to computing, crowdsourcing creates fascinating new opportunities for leveraging real-time human computation for a range of diverse tasks: data annotation, data processing, system evaluation, and “closing the loop” in developing hybrid human-machine systems.

Required Textbook:

No required textbook.

Link to Syllabus:


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