Session on “Experts” and the Crowd
Random notes (lightly edited) by Anne Whisnant
Some key issues:
- Public/user participation in creating/tagging content for digital exhibits
- Public/user contribution of content to digital history sites
- Issue of an institution’s reputation for expertise, the public’s desire that things be “right,” and how it would look if “wrong” materials were posted by “crowd”?
- Ways to make transparent the contributions from the “crowd” vs those of “experts”?
- How to manage the public interactional components of public history work: responding, moderating, etc. Very time/labor intensive. Institutions need to be responsive for this to work.
- Use of outside sites like Flickr for public to post things sometimes works better.
- Copyright/rights issues unresolved.
- Pedagogy/student involvement in creating content for digital projects and how to deal with erroneous material that gets introduced.
- Why are we encouraging/worrying about public involvement? What is our purpose?
- Has Wikipedia solved some of these issues of authority/documentation? But most Wikipedia editors are men; line has leveled off; little scholarly input.
- How to set things up for student input that “asks the right questions” and gives clear instructions and training/web interface setup to “stop” them when entering erroneous metadata.
- Issues of process AND product are intertwined. Need discussion on the process, thoughtful consideration of workflow and embedding “teachable” moments into it so that student/public participants learn something about history, and the process of doing history, while contributing.
- Public also often interested in accuracy of data and facts, too.
- What conversation is going on in libraries about all of this fluidity and participatory content co-creation? Movement of “radical librarians” pertinent to this.
- How to bring in older/less digitally fluent populations into this participation?
- How to take what we as “experts” bring and connect it to people.
- Transparency needed; being able to say here is what we are struggling with; let people see the struggles you are dealing with. Our ability to moderate the process is critical.
- Wd be great to have librarians, public historians, anthropologists (who think a lot about how communities work) talking to each other more.
- Are librarians public historians? Do they think of themselves this way?
- Is digital history really public history? Sometimes public history grad students don’t recognize digital history as public history!
Some Resources Mentioned:
- Blue Ridge Parkway “Driving Through Time” project, UNC-Chapel Hill (still in beta; lots of student labor to create metadata and other contextual materials)
- House Divided project from Dickinson College: teaching tools for civil war, etc. Ck out for ideas in re Blue Ridge Parkway project. Used student labor.
- Seattle Labor History site (Univ of Washington) — also entirely student produced under faculty guidance.
- Brooklyn Museum of Art mobile app
- Cleveland history project (included sandbox for public participation). Not sure of link. Described by Mark Tebeau (see his blog here).
- Radical librarians movement
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