This idea is similar to the one in Siobhan’s previous post, although I’d like to focus on increasing access and use through education (elementary school through graduate research). Before instructors can build new assignments and rubrics around DH resources, they need to know that these resources exist. How can archivists and digital humanities people do a better job of interacting with various aspects of the education community? Should we skip the instructors and go straight to the students (Facebook ads? Subliminal messages on Jersey Shore?)? Or are there specific programs that archives and digital humanities projects are using to reach out to educators (Weekly educators’ newsletters? Special events for educators?)? And what kind of IT infrastructure has to be in place for these outreach projects to work?
Museums, archives, libraries and galleries keep historical artifacts safe, in the public trust, and accessible. But we are not omniscient, we are limited by the boundaries of the text and limits of context, and we are limited by our subjectivities. Furthermore, our institutional websites are not and cannot be the only sites of discovery, synthesis, commentary, engagement and re-use. How can we use the collective knowledge of our users to augment our descriptions of our holdings? How can we help our stuff play nicely with the rest of the web?
Thinking about the “Capture and Release” document from OCLC about using reading room photos on our websites, as well as what have been (for now) boutique projects for using user-contributed content, I wonder if we could get at *what researchers actually want to contribute* and what technological tools are available at our disposal for capturing, preserving, and possibly curating these contributions.
I see user-contributed description as belonging to three categories:
This may be description of the form (subject identification, other metadata), description of the content (transcription, translation), or description of the context (what it means, what happened before or after, why it exists, how it affected future events)
Folks with common interests learning from each others’ discoveries; opportunities for potential donors to see how their collections would fit with ours.
This could also be a really great discussion of what we’re all afraid of — do users of archives and museum collections really want contributions from other users? What kinds of contributions would they find useful? And we hear tell that archivists and museologists and curators are *afraid* of these contributions, but we haven’t gotten at what this fear is based on.
Hopefully, this could be a good discussion of what would work, what wouldn’t, why not, and what tools are available for working together to create new and better content.