These institutions can use the Internet and social media to “outsource” archival work to individuals – amateurs and experts alike. Does this process equalize or democratize our information-gathering, our research orientations? Does it help expedite processing, improve access, and perhaps even encourage some form of “archival civic engagement” – wherein citizens-cum-archivists are engaged with their communities’ histories?
On the flip side, might not some flummoxed volunteer (either from inside the archive itself or across the world, seated in front of their interface) mislabel or misidentify materials – obscuring them from interested researchers in perpetuity? As a legitimate concern, we might be reassured by the pseudo-checks-and-balances system that emerges from crowdsourcing – always having someone else “checking up on” or confirming the quality of your work. Then again, a herd mindset might serve to perpetuate errors. Ultimately, professional archivists must take the lead on these projects.