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: