2,532 crowdsourcing and crowdfunding sites
Jason Felch, an investigative journalist and author of Chasing Aphrodite: The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museum, is currently working on an ambitious crowdsourcing project looking to combat illegal art trading.
Felch plans to create an open source platform to publish “records and photographs documenting the illicit trade in looted antiquities.” He will then encourage experts and knowledgeable citizens to visit the site, tentatively known as WikiLoot, to help identify and locate the stolen objects. While the first chunk of records and photos will be centered on art from Italy and Greece – investigators there have recently seized a plethora of records – Felch hopes to expand the project to art from other areas of the world.
“This is a worldwide problem,” Felch emphasized at an Authors@Google talk. “It’s one that involves Southeast Asia, it’s one that involves pre-Columbian art, and there are similar types of archives, I am told, of objects and of middle men in the trade from these communities. So my idea is to build on what you’ve got – in this case it's classical antiquities – and then… build it out, as it grows.”
The illegal art trade is a lucrative one, worth up to $6 billion a year. Crowdsourcing the analysis of the archives seized in Europe will not only help experts identify and track down the art objects, but also raise awareness of the issue.
“The public doesn’t completely understand the scope of the problem,” Felch continued. “I think particularly in the United States, there’s a sense that looting is a victimless crime, because we don’t see the devastation of the archaeological sites; they’re not, for the most part, here. So I think public awareness is a big part of this, and I’d like for there to be a way in which the public could engage in this.”
Currently, Felch and his team are still hashing out the specifics of the project. The team submitted a proposal to the Knight News Challenge that failed to secure funding; they are planning to enter the next round of the competition, which opens on May 31. With more publicity, we hope that Felch and his team will be able to secure the funding needed to create the platform, and we will continue to monitor their project.