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Institute for Digital Archaeology Method & Practice

Public Group active 4 years, 1 month ago

Discussion group for the members and faculty of the NEH Funded Institute for Digital Archaeology Method & Practice ( organized by Michigan State University’s Department of Anthropology and MATRIX: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences

Interaction Sphere/Esfera de Interacción

This topic contains 3 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  A.L. McMichael 4 years, 8 months ago.

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    Hi, Emily. A few quickish thoughts on your vision document. I’m very excited about the idea of a peer-edited (or what my colleague Kathy Rowe has referred to as a project that’s not really “crowd-sourced,” but instead “OUR crowd-sourced”) field manual, which has the potential to be quite dynamically engaged with researcher needs, particularly as those needs evolve.

    You mention the possible use of either CommentPress or Hypothesis. Both allow for rich community discussions of in-process texts, but they’ve got very different architectures and underlying assumptions, which will make your choice an important one. CommentPress permits paragraph-by-paragraph commenting, and keeps those comments in the WordPress database, such that they can be migrated and managed with the core text itself. It’s a somewhat inflexible system, however (more or less a hack of WP’s comment structure), and you’re pretty constrained in what you can do with it and how you can make it look. Hypothesis, by contrast, permits users to highlight and comment on any chunk of text, but it keeps those comments in its own separate content layer. The good news about this is that other users can experience the core text without it being cluttered up with a billion comments; the bad news is that the comments are not stored with the core text, and so I’m not sure about future possibilities for data management and use. But Hypothesis is quite flexible, and has a whole lot of support behind it (you might see in particular this recent announcement), so it would be worth some investigation.

    The other thing to note is that, in my own personal experience, the most difficult aspect of largish-scale collaborations — and particularly collaborations in which colleagues are being asked to do their work in new, open ways they’re unaccustomed to — is the people-wrangling part. You’ll want to plan carefully for the kinds of tasks and expectations you’ll have for your contributors, and particularly for how you’ll keep them motivated and invested when they’re busy with other aspects of their work lives.

    I’ll look forward to hearing how things are developing!


    Emily Stovel

    Thank you so much for your thoughts, Kathleen. I only just found this forum with help from Ethan so my tardy reply is due to that.

    I have been concerned with the potential of organizing a huge number of people and publicizing all of this. My coauthor and I have decided to develop one chapter with data we more or less have control over, while publicizing the process to others. Then if and when that one chapter is successful, it might encourage others to join in.

    As such, I think this whole process depends more on publicizing things to different groups of people. To be honest, this is not my forte in this new world of social media. Despite a strongly luddite previous life, I am confident in being able to decide which software might suit the project (thank you for the recommendations), develop some expertise, and then produce a model chapter for review. This individualistic and isolated working approach is contrary to the spirit of communal digital work, however. Given that so much online exchange is exploratory, how did you encourage others to have the interest and the confidence in your early projects while things were still under construction? I am hampered by the idea that I have to launch a concept on facebook and twitter, come up with a plan to push the project out to others, and that this will be difficult to do while the very concept is still half-formed.

    As I read this over I realise my principal concern is leading or coordinating others when not only are our ideas taking form, but when I myself am so new to the social media tools and behaviours that seem to be vital to the success of the project.

    Do you have any advice about this quandry?

    Thanks again! I’m off to explore both those options.


    Boy, I wish I had the answer to this quandary, as it would help push a couple of my own projects forward. But my sense is that the most important way of getting participants actively engaged in a social project is giving them a sense of ownership in it, so that they feel personally invested in its success. This may mean doing some active user research as you’re making decisions about your platform, soliciting input into user needs and then feedback on various aspects of the system as you build it. This process of user experience work can slow things down, for sure, as it takes time to get that information and really incorporate it into what you’re doing — but as much more expedient as it would be to simply build the thing the way you think best and then get people excited about it afterward, you’re much more likely to end up with something your users want to use if you focus on community-building through the entire process of platform-building.

    In any case, I’ll look forward to seeing where the project is leading you! (And I’ll try to do a better job of checking in here going forward…)


    A.L. McMichael

    Emily, I came across this post by Mia Ridge today, and thought of your questions above: “Guest post ‘Tips for digital participation, engagement and crowdsourcing in museums’ for London Museums Group

    I can only add that I second all the people saying that it takes time and targeted outreach. I started one of my digital projects thinking plenty of people would be interested in joining in, but it actually took several years before it started to get traction. That having been said, I got to experiment with relatively little scrutiny in that time, so I appreciated being able to try a few things with a relatively small audience.

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