Assignment 1 – UGC / Crowdsourced Participation and Reflection

MA in Digital Arts and Humanities 
University College Cork 


2024-DH6034: Humanities and New Technologies: Tools and Methodologies


Title of the Assignment: Assignment 1 – UGC / Crowdsourced Participation and Reflection


Student Name & Number:

Ever David Beltrán Pinto – 122146435  

Lecturer: Dr. Shawn Day

Submission date:  February 17, 2024


 In submitting this assignment, I confirm that the present work is entirely our own original work, except where clearly attributed otherwise, and that it has not been submitted partly or wholly for any other educational award.  

I hereby declare that:  

  • this is all my own work, unless clearly indicated otherwise, with full and proper accreditation;
  • with respect to another’s work: all text, diagrams, code, or ideas, whether verbatim, paraphrased or otherwise modified or adapted, have been duly attributed to the source in a scholarly manner, whether from books, papers, lecture notes or any other student’s work, whether published or unpublished, electronically or in print.  


This report explores my participation in two User Generated Content Projects, each reflecting my academic and personal interests while contributing to the broader scientific and humanities communities.

The first project, hosted by the European Digital Humanities Platform, Europeana, is a Citizens Science initiative (CSI) that aims to engage the public in transcribing, annotating, and georeferencing Europeana's vast collection of digitized items from libraries, archives, and museums across Europe.

In contrast, the second project, 'Are We Alone in the Universe?' delves into scientific inquiry, seeking answers to one of humanity's enduring mysteries: the existence of other civilizations in the universe.

Throughout this report, I will delve into my experiences, insights, and contributions to these projects, following the rubrics given to undertake this assignment.

Transcription of Captain Fred G. Coxen’s Journal

In the Transcribathon project, I engaged in the transcription and editing of Captain Fred G. Coxen’s Journal, an English document detailing activities during World War I in northern Belgium. Upon accessing the platform, I familiarized myself with the project's objectives and guidelines. The platform provides a comprehensive tutorial on how exactly the task should be fulfilled, ensuring a smooth entry into the activity.

With the user-friendly interface and clear instructions, I swiftly delved into transcribing and editing segments of the digitized journal. Through various sections of work, I managed to transcribe the whole chapter V, whose title can be seen in image 1.

The activity was quite straightforward. However, the fact that the document is not written in my native language posed me an extra challenge. Especially, because the kind of language it utilizes can be hard for people not familiarized with the topic of war. And yet, that constituted a great chance to practice and enhance my foreign language skills, which I count as my first learning outcome of the task. Nonetheless, it is a repetitive activity that can be done more effectively with a bit of practice.

Despite the seemingly small nature of this contribution, its implications for enhancing the accessibility of cultural content are significant. Transcribing the journal facilitates the automatic translation and conversion of the data into various formats, including audio and braille, thereby broadening its accessibility to diverse user groups. Furthermore, as my transcription input progresses, opportunities to undertake more complex tasks, such as noting and verifying metadata, emerge.

The prospect of progressing within the project, particularly towards tasks involving metadata, serves as a motivating factor. Mastery of metadata, including familiarity with the Dublin Core System, not only enhances my contributions to the project but also augments my skill set in digital humanities.

Finally, I would like to highlight my experience in terms of the content transcribed. Captain Fred provides highly detailed chronicles of their war experiences. It provided me with a first-hand insight of the worst consequence of the lack of empathy of us humans: the war. Their long march among the enemy's fire at Landrecies and Maroilles reminds us of the long way we still have to walk until we reach a peaceful society: “Marched at 3.30 a.m. It was a long, hard, long march. The infantry were falling exhausted, at every halt. All seem nearly knocked up” (Coxen’s Journal, 1914). It is clear that peace can be achieved without equality. Equalism seen from all perspectives and fields. What corresponds to us, actors of culture, is to add our grain of sand to get that equality in terms of accessibility to knowledge. That openness for which the Digital Humanities incessantly advocate. That is precisely the ultimate reason why initiatives such as UGC and CSI are held. It is indeed a long march, but every step of collaboration represents an advancement. May our efforts keep marching in full swing.

Final Report: Are We Alone in the Universe?

The project 'Are We Alone in the Universe?', hosted on the Zooniverse website and supported by the Planetarian Society, represents a captivating endeavor led by the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in collaboration with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Initiative. The project aims to uncover traces of civilizations beyond Earth by meticulously analyzing images captured by the largest fully steerable telescope on our planet.

Initially, the task associated with this project seemed daunting to me. Delving into the project's description, I was overwhelmed by the plethora of technical terms and concepts presented in the guidelines. However, driven by determination, I persevered and embarked on the task at hand.

The project's objective centers around the belief that every civilization leaves behind discernible traces of its existence, often manifested in emissions of various types of wave signals. Specifically, the project focuses on capturing waves emitted by radio beacons or other powerful radio emitters. Users are tasked with classifying images to identify those that hold potential significance for further analysis by specialists.

Navigating through the project's guidelines, I quickly realized that this activity demanded a heightened level of concentration and keen pattern recognition skills. Each image presented a unique set of patterns that required careful analysis and interpretation. It was imperative to thoroughly study the guidelines to ensure a clear understanding of the task at hand before delving into the classification process.

As I embarked on the activity, my first step was to identify the nature of the pattern depicted in each image. The pictures look like image 2.

The participant should select the pattern that mostly matches the image according to the guide of instructions given. In this particular case, the pattern of the image is mostly vertical. Unfortunately, some images contain distorted patterns, which pose a great challenge when being identified, as in image 3.

Despite encountering distorted patterns in some images, I persevered with practice and left comments when uncertain of my choices.

This activity exposed me to a technique relevant to my academic interests, namely image pattern recognition. In the field of Digital Humanities, visual data analysis is a common technique, predominantly based on pattern recognition. Although I am far from mastering such techniques, acquiring skills in pattern recognition lays the groundwork for future endeavors, including machine learning.

Unlike the Transcribathon project, the results and impacts of my contribution in 'Are We Alone in the Universe?' are not immediately apparent. Success in the search for extraterrestrial life is a monumental endeavor, requiring immense effort and, perhaps, a stroke of luck. Nevertheless, every contribution, no matter how small, plays a role in aligning our receptors with the desired signal. Whether or not we detect extraterrestrial civilizations, each contribution contributes to the collective effort in our quest for answers.

In conclusion, participating in the 'Are We Alone in the Universe?' project was a challenging yet rewarding experience. It provided insight into image pattern recognition and contributed to the broader search for extraterrestrial civilizations. While the outcome remains uncertain, the journey itself is invaluable, contributing to our understanding of the universe and our place within it.


In conclusion, I would like to reflect on the experiences gained from participating in both activities combined.

Firstly, engaging in User Generated Content (UGC) and Citizen Science Initiatives (CSI) aligns with two primary goals of Digital Humanities and science overall. These initiatives challenge the traditional notion of knowledge production as solely the domain of isolated geniuses, instead emphasizing the importance of societal engagement and collaboration. History has shown that addressing humanity's greatest challenges requires the collective efforts of all members of society. The integration of new technologies enables broader citizen engagement, highlighting the significance of digital literacy and openness in societal progress.

Additionally, Digital Humanities has fostered interdisciplinary research, emphasizing collaboration across diverse fields. As demonstrated by these activities, interdisciplinary collaboration enables individuals to contribute in the early stages of research, expanding the scope of knowledge before specialists refine and deepen it. This collaborative approach serves as a model for bridging the gap between science and the Humanities, enriching the breadth and accessibility of knowledge.

Regarding the content studied, the selection of topics serves as a metaphor for the complexities of human existence. On one hand, projects like "Are We Alone?" reflect our collective curiosity and ambition to explore the universe for companionship. Conversely, the war journal of Captain Fred highlights the destructive consequences of human conflict. The juxtaposition of these themes prompts a critical reflection on our priorities as a society.

In 2022, the launch of the James Webb Telescope symbolized a global endeavor to explore the universe, yet the same year witnessed devastating wars that inflicted immense suffering worldwide. This contradiction underscores the need for introspection and ethical consideration before embarking on quests for extraterrestrial life. As we navigate this dynamic of destruction and construction in our history and present, may our actions lead to a future where such contradictions no longer define our existence.

In essence, the experiences from these projects serve as a catalyst for introspection and collective action, challenging us to confront the complexities of our humanity and strive towards a more harmonious future.


  • Transcribathon (2024). Capt Fred G. Journal (1914). Europeana. (accessed Feb 16, 2024).

  • The Planetary Society (2024). Are We Alone in the Universe? SETI Project. (accessed Feb 16, 2024).

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