My colleague Kathryn Eccles studies crowdsourcing in the field of cultural heritage resources, and the topic often comes up in our conversations. Usually we talk about the collective effort of individuals related to mass participation in the gathering, processing or interpretation of information. But today I received an email from the organizers of the International Summer School on “Information & Communication Technology for Democracy” to be held in New Delhi in March 2014, with a crowdfunding request to support their students. Just as with the broader concept of crowdsourcing, they hope to reach their goal by receiving small contributions from many parties.
The organizers have been able to secure funds for the keynote speakers, but it has proven impossible to get funding for the young researchers partaking. They explain on their campaign page that 30 Master and PhD students have been selected on the basis of the quality of their research. These students come from 15 different countries, among them many developing countries such as Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Egypt. The organizers want to provide free accommodation, food and ground transportation for their summer school students. To be able to do this, they need to raise 6500 US Dollars and they have only 55 days remaining to accomplish this.
I think it is important that all talented young researchers have the opportunity to meet colleagues to discuss their work with, and to build relationships with more senior researchers, activists, government officials, and practitioners. I am also interested in the topic of the summer school, having studied the role of ICTs in democracies and for civic participation myself. Therefore, I have donated a small amount. If you feel the same and can spare a couple of dollars, do visit the campaign website to make this crowdfunding exercise a success.