Revamping The Finnish National Library

I sat down for a chat with Otto Chrons from Microtask at last week’s MindTrek conference. We covered Microtask late this summer when they closed a seed round from Sunstone Capital. Otto Chrons had some very interesting news to tell this time round as well, they are soon starting a large project with their first client. Microtask is going to help the Finnish National Library with its archives early next year.

Many current crowdsourcing services concentrate on web services like content validation, translation and finding information online. Microtask is aiming to get more traditional industries as their customers and what can be more traditional than a national library’s archives? Otto explained that the reason why they’re going for such customers is that they want to differentiate themselves from the competition. Traditional industries can benefit a lot from crowdsourcing - one just needs to go out there and make it happen.

What Microtask is planning to help the Finnish National Library with is to convert their archives from images into text and create metadata to ensure that information is easy to find and understand. The workload is going to be quite significant so the company is hoping to attract volunteers to help with some of the groundwork. Given archive’s strong sentimental value and the high number of students going to the library daily, it should be fairly easy to convince average folk to help out Microtask.

Otto shared that the great thing about this project from the business prospective is that many national libraries around Europe look up to the Finnish National Library and tend to adopt any innovation or new technology that it deploys. Hence, there is potentially a huge market for crowdsourcing companies like Microtask, not only in national libraries but in any media houses that tend to have vast disorganized archives.

How does Microtask feel at the face of this challenge and potential? With an optimistic slogan of ‘one billion tasks a day’. I doubt that the company currently completes that many tasks on a daily basis, but it surely makes for a catchy motto. The company’s optimism is understandable: according to Otto, there is virtually no competition in Europe and crowdsoursing companies from US have so far been reluctant to enter European markets. This gives Microtask quite a comfortable position - let’s hope they seize the opportunity!

Microtask has a very descriptive video on their site explaining their business. Unfortunately we can't embed it here, so you'll have to pay them a visit.

Image by See-ming Lee

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