Crowdsourcing/Restoration and reuse of images/Image restoration

Restoration can include cropping, fixing colour balance, contrast, orientation and hiding damage. It is achievable with widely available software, including free software such as GIMP. This is an ideal task for crowdsourcing.

  • The tools and skills are widely distributed, not restricted to institutions
  • The task of restoring a batch of images can be broken down into many small steps which do not depend on each other
  • The open process means that nothing is lost if someone does a bad job: another restorer can start again from the origina.
  • It is publicly verifiable what each user has contributed, so contributors can get recognition for their work
  • Involving the crowd does not prevent professionals from doing the work: it just gives the professionals another platform to work on and a chance for more feedback

Volunteers will not work systematically through an entire archive but will pick the images they find interesting or which are most likely to be valued by the wider community. Wikipedia volunteer Durova’s motivation is clear when she writes about restoring a picture of the Wright Brothers’ first flight from an original provided by the US Library of Congress:

This is arguably the most important photograph in aviation engineering history. It’s an honor to work on a version that hundreds of thousands of people will see in dozens of languages.

This may contrast with motivations of professionals, who want to get a whole batch of work finished. The trade-off for professionals is that crowdsourcing might speed up restoration of the whole batch, but working efficiently might require them to concentrate their own effort on the less interesting parts of the collection.

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