Paper: ‘On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a historian: exploring resistance to crowdsourced resources among historians’ at DH2012

I presented a short paper ‘On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a historian: exploring resistance to crowdsourced resources among historians’  (abstract, video) at Digital Humanities 2012 in Hamburg, Germany.

I’ve posted a version of my research as it was at that stage as a post on Open Objects: Early PhD findings: Exploring historians’ resistance to crowdsourced resources.

My abstract (written a long time previously) is below:

Crowdsourcing, the act of taking work once performed within an organisation and outsourcing it to the general public in an open call (Howe 2006), is increasingly popular in memory institutions as a tool for digitising or computing vast amounts of data, as projects such as Galaxy Zoo and Old Weather (Romeo & Blaser 2011), Transcribe Bentham (Terras 2010) and the Australian Newspapers Digitisation Program (Holley 2010) have shown. However, the very openness that allows large numbers of experts and amateurs to participate in the process of building crowdsourced resources also raises issues of authority, reliability and trust in those resources. Can we rely on content created by pseudonymous peers or members of the public? And why do academics often feel that they can’t? This paper explores some of the causes and forms of resistance to creating and using crowdsourced resources among historians.

‘Participant digitisation’ is a specialised form of crowdsourcing in which the digital records and knowledge generated when researchers access primary materials are captured at the point of creation and potentially made available for future re-use. Through interviews with academic and family/local historians, this paper examines the following: the commonalities and differences in how these two groups assess the provenance, reliability and probable accuracy of digital resources; how crowdsourcing tools might support their working practices with historical materials; the motivations of historians for sharing their transcriptions and images in a public repository; the barriers that would prevent them from participating in a project that required them to share their personally-digitised archives; and the circumstances under which they would selectively restrict content sharing. From this preliminary investigation, the paper will go on to consider implications for the creation of digital humanities resources for academic and amateur users.

References

Holley, R. (2010). Crowdsourcing: How and Why Should Libraries Do It? D-Lib Magazine 16(3/4).

Howe, J. (2006). The Rise of Crowdsourcing. Wired 14.06. [Online] Available from: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.06/crowds.html

Romeo, F., and L. Blaser (2011). Bringing Citizen Scientists and Historians Together. In J. Trant and D. Bearman (eds), Museums and the Web 2011: Proceedings. Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics.

Terras, M. (2010). Digital curiosities: resource creation via amateur digitization. Literary and Linguistic Computing 25(4), 425-438.

Second NeDiMAH workshop on Space and Time in the Digital Humanities: “Here and There, Then and Now – Modelling Space and Time in the Humanities”

While in Hamburg for Digital Humanities 2012, I chaired a session on ‘Methods’ and subsequently co-authored a report, “Here and There, Then and Now – Modelling Space and Time in the Humanities” (PDF) for the European Science Foundation (with Leif Isaksen, Shawn Day, and Ryan Shaw) for the Second NeDiMAH workshop on Space and Time in the Digital Humanities: “Here and There, Then and Now – Modelling Space and Time in the Humanities“.

From the workshop abstract:

Spatio-temporal concepts are so ubiquitous that it is easy for us to forget that they are essential to everything we do. All expressions of Human culture are related to the dimensions of space and time in the manner of their production and consumption, the nature of their medium and the way in which they express these concepts themselves. This workshop seeks to identify innovative practices among the Digital Humanities community that explore, critique and re-present the spatial and temporal aspects of culture.

Although space and time are closely related, there are significant differences between them which may be exploited when theorizing and researching the Humanities. Among these are the different natures of their dimensionality (three dimensions vs. one), the seemingly static nature of space but enforced ‘flow’ of time, and the different methods we use to make the communicative leap across spatial and temporal distance. Every medium, whether textual, tactile, illustrative or audible (or some combination of them), exploits space and time differently in order to convey its message. The changes required to express the same concepts in different media (between written and performed music, for example), are often driven by different spatio-temporal requirements. Last of all, the impossibility (and perhaps undesirability) of fully representing a four-dimensional reality (whether real or fictional) mean that authors and artists must decide how to collapse this reality into the spatio-temporal limitations of a chosen medium. The nature of those choices can be as interesting as the expression itself.

This workshop allows those working with digital tools and techniques that manage, analyse and exploit spatial and temporal concepts in the Humanities to present a position paper for the purposes of wider discussion and debate. The position papers will discuss generalized themes related to use of spatio-temporal methods in the Digital Humanities with specific reference to one or more concrete applications or examples. Accepted papers have been divided into three themed sessions: Tools, Methods and Theory. This workshop is part of the ESF-funded NEDIMAH Network and organised by its Working Group on Space and Time. The group will also present its findings from the First NeDiMAH Workshop on Space and Time.

Links and slides for ‘Learning to play like a programmer: Web mash-ups and scripting for beginners’

Workshop abstract: Learning to play like a programmer: web mash-ups and scripting for beginners.

Slides (pdf): Play Like A Programmer workshop DH2012

Links for the Digital Humanities pre-conference workshop ‘Learning to play like a programmer: Web mash-ups and scripting for beginners’

My contact details

Twitter: @mia_out, blog http://openobjects.blogspot.com, homepage http://www.miaridge.com

Text editors

Online javascript console

Data to play with

Visualisation tools

Resources to keep learning

About learning to code

On hack days

Going further with debugging

Workshop: Learning to play like a programmer: web mash-ups and scripting for beginners

Half day tutorial for the pre-conference workshops for Digital Humanities 2012: Learning to play like a programmer: web mash-ups and scripting for beginners.

Abstract:

Have you ever wanted to be able to express your ideas for digital humanities data-based projects more clearly, or wanted to know more about hack days and coding but been too afraid to ask?

In this hands-on tutorial led by an experienced web programmer, attendees will learn how to use online tools to create visualisations to explore humanities data sets while learning how computer scripts interact with data in digital applications.

Attendees will learn the basic principles of programming by playing with small snippets of code in a fun and supportive environment. The instructor will use accessible analogies to help participants understand and remember technical concepts. Working in pairs, participants will undertake short exercises and put into practice the scripting concepts they are learning about. The tutorial structure encourages attendees to reflect on their experiences and consolidate what they have learned from the exercises with the goal of providing deeper insight into computational thinking.

The tutorial aims to help humanists without a technical background understand more about the creation and delivery of digital humanities data resources. In doing so, this tutorial is designed to support greater diversity in the ‘digital’ part of the digital humanities community.

This tutorial is aimed at people who want to learn enough to get started playing with simple code to manipulate data, or gain an insight into how programming works. No technical knowledge is assumed. Attendees are asked to bring their own laptops or net books.

The tutorial will include:

  • what a humanities data set is and how to access one
  • how web scripting languages work (using JavaScript as an example)
  • how to sketch out your ideas in pseudo-code
  • the value of visualisation tools in understanding the shape of a data set
  • prepared exercises: ‘hello world’, using script libraries for mash-ups, creating your first mash-up using a live cultural dataset (e.g. a timeline or map),
  • how to find further resources and keep learning

Related link: Links and slides for ‘Learning to play like a programmer: Web mash-ups and scripting for beginners’