I was invited to present at Speaking in Code, an NEH-funded symposium and summit to ‘give voice to what is almost always tacitly expressed in our work: expert knowledge about the intellectual and interpretive dimensions of DH code-craft, and unspoken understandings about the relation of that work to ethics, scholarly method, and humanities theory’. I’ve been writing about this for a while, so this event was both personally and professional important.
From my opening slide:
‘There’s a fundamental tension between available tools and cultural heritage data: we’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Do you craft the tools to the data or the data to the tool?
So what do you do with square pegs and round holes? You can chop off the interesting edges to fit something into a round hole, you can reduce the size of the entire peg so it’ll slip through, or you can make a new bespoke hole that’ll fit your peg. But then how do we make the choices we’ve made obvious to people who encounter the data we’ve squeezed through various holes? It’s particularly important if people are using these collections in scholarly work to make the flattenings, exclusions that shape a dataset visible.
The choices you make will depend on your resources and skills, the audience for and the purpose of the final product… Will look at some examples of visualisations for exploring collections where I had to tidy the mess to make them work, and an example of designing software to cope with the messy reality it was trying to reflect.
I want to set the scene with my own experiences with cultural heritage data, but am curious to hear about your own experiences with messy data in your respective fields, and the solutions you’ve explored for dealing with it and conveying your decisions.’
Messy Understandings Speaking in Code (PDF)
Creating Deep Maps and Spatial Narratives through Design with Don Lafreniere and Scott Nesbit for the International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing, based on our work at the Summer 2012 NEH Advanced Institute on Spatial Narrative and Deep Maps: Explorations in the Spatial Humanities.
Ridge, Mia; Lafreniere, Don and Nesbit, Scott (2013). Creating deep maps and spatial narratives through design. International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing, 7(1-2) pp. 176–189.
Abstract: An interdisciplinary team of researchers were challenged to create a model of a deep map during a three-day charette at the NEH Institute on Spatial Narratives and Deep Maps. Through a reflexive process of ingesting data, probing for fruitful research questions, and considering how a deep map might be used by different audiences, we created a wireframe model of a deep map and explored how it related to spatial narratives. We explored the tension between interfaces for exploratory and structured views of data and sources, and devised a model for the intersections between spatial narratives and deep maps. The process of creating wireframes and prototype screens—and more importantly, the discussions and debates they initiated—helped us understand the complex requirements for deep maps and showed how a deep map can support a humanistic interpretation of the role of space in historical processes.
Peer-reviewed article ‘From tagging to theorizing: deepening engagement with cultural heritage through crowdsourcing’ published in Curator journal
Ridge, Mia (2013). From tagging to theorizing: deepening engagement with cultural heritage through crowdsourcing. Curator: The Museum Journal, 56(4) pp. 435–450.
Proof copy available at http://oro.open.ac.uk/39117/.
Abstract: Crowdsourcing, or “obtaining information or services by soliciting input from a large number of people,” is becoming known for the impressive productivity of projects that ask the public to help transcribe, describe, locate, or categorize cultural heritage resources. This essay argues that crowdsourcing projects can also be a powerful platform for audience engagement with museums, offering truly deep and valuable connection with cultural heritage through online collaboration around shared goals or resources. It includes examples of well-designed crowdsourcing projects that provide platforms for deepening involvement with citizen history and citizen science; useful definitions of “engagement”; and evidence for why some activities help audiences interact with heritage and scientific material. It discusses projects with committed participants and considers the role of communities of participants in engaging participants more deeply.
I was asked to share some of the lessons I’ve learnt from building digital participation projects in museums and from my research on crowdsourcing in cultural heritage for the London Museums Group blog following my talk at their “Museums and Social Media” event on 24 May at Tate Britain.
They’ve now been published at ‘Tips for digital participation, engagement and crowdsourcing in museums | by Mia Ridge‘.
To pinch from my headings, I discuss the advantages of digital engagement; challenges for museums | new relationships, new authorities, dissolving boundaries; 6 tips for designing digital participation experiences in museums; 2 bonus tips for designing crowdsourcing projects in museums.
There are other event reports at A round up of the LMG Museums and Social Media Event.
I ran a half-day workshop on ‘Designing successful digital humanities crowdsourcing projects’ at the Digital Humanities 2013 conference in sunny Lincoln, Nebraska.
Workshop attendees: download the slides (2mb PDF) DH2013 Crowdsourcing workshop slides and exercises handout (Word doc): DH2013 Crowdsourcing workshop exercises.
I’ve started a braindump of ‘emerging best practice’ tips and questions from the workshop below…
Tips for designing humanities crowdsourcing projects Continue reading
I was invited to present with Helen Weinstein at the We Curate kick-off seminar at the Pavillion 0 at the Sigma Foundation’s palazzo on the opening weekend of the Venice Biennale. Our slides for Participatory practices: inclusion, dialogue and trust in museums and academia are online, and I blogged about our talk and the event for Historyworkstv: Participatory Practice Presentation at the Venice Biennale.
As Chair of the Museums Computer Group, it was a pleasure to attend the MCG’s Spring meeting, ‘Engaging Visitors Through Play‘, at the University of Ulster’s Centre for Media Research in Belfast on May 30.
I spoke on ‘Digital challenges, digital opportunities’, and my aim was to introduce the Museums Computer Group, discuss some of the challenges museums and their staff are facing and think about how to create opportunities from those challenges. I’ve posted my notes at ‘Digital challenges, digital opportunities’ at MCGPlay, Belfast.
I blogged about the event at ‘Engaging Visitors Through Play’ – the Museums Computer Group in Belfast and my post was picked up and re-posted as a guest post, ‘Game on’, for the Museums Association blog.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 1-2 pm EDT, online via NITLE’s desktop videoconferencing platform
Slides (8mb PDF). Continue reading
I was invited to give a talk (which seemed to turn into a plenary then a keynote along the way) for the GLAM-Wiki 2013 conference. I thought it might be useful to put current discussions around opening cultural data for use on Wikipedia and other projects that require content to be licensed for re-use in context (for the museum, library and archive professionals in the audience) and some of the contradictory instructions issued to institutions with cultural, scientific or historical content (for the Wikipedians in the audience, though of course there was a huge overlap between those groups).
I’ve blogged my talk notes as ‘An (even briefer) history of open cultural data‘ at GLAM-Wiki 2013 at Open Objects or there’s a video of my talk.