Commons Lab on Boston Public Radio

With 4,464 votes, Vincent van Gogh’s masterpiece, Houses at Auvers (1890), was the most popular painting selected for the crowdsourced exhibition. Credit: Open Source
With 4,464 votes, Vincent van Gogh’s Houses at Auvers (1890) was the most popular painting selected for the crowdsourced exhibition at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Photo credit: Open Source

Visitors to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts recently stepped into the role of curator by voting on their favorite Impressionist artwork for inclusion in an exhibit called “Boston Loves Impressionism.” Amanda Beland, a reporter for Boston Public Radio’s show “You Are Here,” covered the exhibition’s opening as part of a Feb. 9 segment dedicated to crowdsourcing and citizen science. For the show, Beland interviewed Anne Bowser, a research assistant at the Commons Lab, to better understand the motivations of volunteers who contribute to crowdsourcing projects.

Bowser explained that volunteer motivation is complex and changes over time. “At least initially, citizen science is usually connected to people’s existing hobbies,” she said. “So for example, somebody may start monitoring avian populations because they have a birdfeeder in their backyard and they like to look at birds. And then different motivations come into play as people continue, or look at different projects, or transform their participation from just gathering data, to doing some form of analysis or interpretation, or posing new questions with data sets, or becoming project leaders.”

Check out the full segment on Beland’s Soundcloud page.

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