Accessing the Inaccessible in Difficult Environments: The Uses and Abuses of Crowdsourcing
This paper discusses the increasing interest in crowdsourcing and other social media as research data collection methods in conflict-affected regions. It draws on a literature review and the author's experiences of setting up a crowdsourced data collection project in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It argues that crowdsourcing can be a useful supplement when conducting research in difficult-to-access areas, but should not replace field research. Reliance on remotely gathered data can give researchers an incomplete understanding of realities on the ground, which privileges the voices of those with most access to the technology.