116,638 names tagged in first week!
We have gathered together the statistics for the first week of Operation War Diary – Tues 14th Jan – Mon 20 Jan. Citizen Historians are already making an extraordinary contribution to what we know about the First World War. Our team are analysing the data, preparing it for its 3 main purposes:
- to provide evidence about the experience of named individuals in IWM’s Lives of the First World War project – you are contributing to their permanent digital memorial
- to present academics with large amounts of accurate data to help them gain a better understanding of how the war was fought
- to enrich The National Archives’ catalogue descriptions for the unit war diaries – this will enable you and others to find what they want in those 1.5 million pages, in future
The data itself is rich and complex, so it’s going to take a while for us to complete this analysis and share the data with you. We’ll explain that process in detail in another post very soon. In the meantime we’d like to share some of the numbers that summarise the contribution many of you are making right here:
Week 1: Tues 14 Jan – Mon 20 Jan:
- 104,167 pages classified
- 116,638 people were tagged – including large numbers of Other Ranks (Privates, Drivers, Gunners, etc)
- 212,832 dates tagged
- 144,021 activities tagged
- 24, 644 weather conditions tagged
- 148,402 people visited the site
- 746,972 pages were viewed
- Peak concurrent users, approx 1,000 on Tue 14.
- 85 diaries completed in week 1
- Approx 1 person year of effort spent on Operation War Diary site.
Wow – thank you to all the citizen historians who made this possible!
A remarkable start
This is far beyond what we expected for our first outing. Operation War Diary uses the Zooniverse platform to present large volumes of data (approx 1.5 million pages) for classification and tagging. This approach has been used for some time in Citizen Science — find out more at Zooniverse.org. However, this is the first pure history project to use this approach. As this is a first, there are many unknowns. The main one was “would people volunteer as citizen historians?” We now know that many of you are willing to help us and be part of history – that is essential, and knowing that we can make Operation War Diary even more effective. We can now proceed to refine the available tags and continue to enhance the classification and tagging interface.
More explaining to do
Several people have asked us to explain more about why we are using this approach for citizen history – I hope the quantity of data gathered already begins to answer that. We’ll be addressing this in more detail very soon. And some of you may be wondering why we haven’t addressed every query already – good question! We are a highly dedicated, but small team spread across 3 organisations. We have decided to focus on enhancements to the system in the first couple of weeks. We have already addressed a range of issues that some volunteers experienced in the first week. We also have lots of other exciting projects that overlap with Operation War Diary and these have also required some of our attention. This is is a long term project – its going to take a long time to tag all 1.5 million pages of Western Front War Diaries! So there is plenty of time for us to learn, improve and reach more citizen historians.
A two-way street
Finally, Citizen History is a two way street – the volunteers must get at least as much out as the effort they put in. My own experience of doing Operation War Diary with my daughter tells me that this work gives us a fine-grained, close-up view of the Western Front. It makes us think about the war in ways we never did before and leads us on to learn more from other sources. Chris Lintott, Principal Investigator at Zooniverse has a wonderful phrase for this, he describes it as an “engine of motivation,” in my home this is certainly the case.
Who else out there is learning while they help us? Please tell us about it in the comments below.
Luke Smith, Digital Lead, First World War Centenary Programme, Imperial War Museums