Community collections: what are the challenges?


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This brief presentation discusses some of the key challenges in setting up community collections/corwdsourcing projects. There are some notes attached to the slides with a bit of background on the projects mentioned on the slides.

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  • In 2010-2011 JISC funded two programmes which included over 20 projects focusing on developing community collections as a partnership between Higher Education Institutions and the wider sector, including community and heritage organisations, specialist groups, the private sector and the public at large. Details of the programme are on slide #7.
  • Strandlines and the Old Weathercan be seen as “community collections” projects at the two end of a spectrum. Strandlines worked very closely with specific community groups along the Strand (one of London’s most famous streets), including homeless people, over 50s, and a life writing group. The main aim was to gather their stories and experiences of living or working along the Strand. The digital interaction was very much mediated by human interaction.Old Weather attracted citizens at large in a crowdsourcing project where people were asked to transcribe pages from WW1 naval log books. The main form of interaction was online and task-based, although the project did have an online forum for participants to keep in touch with each other.
  • The RunCoCO project and its predecessor the Great War Archive held a number of events in public places such as libraries both in the UK and in Europe where they were helping people digitise and catalogue their own WW1 objects, such as letters and photographs. All the digitised items were then uploaded on the Great War Archive web site or its related Flickr group.Transcribe Bentham has engaged almost 2000 volunteers (1,948 as of 1 October 2012) in transcribing and editing the manuscripts of Jeremy Bentham.
  • Digitalkoot has used gaming techniques to encourage people to help fix mistakes in OCR’d old Finnish newspapers in order to increase the accuracy of text-based searches of the archives.My Leicestershire History worked with Leicester-based local history groups in digitising their archives. Both parties gained access to expertise and resources from each other.
  • Sustainability and scalability are key challenges for community collections projects. Projects such as Old Weather have made use of an existing platform (from the Zooniverse suite of projects which allows them to approach crowdsourcing in a strategic way, and move on to the next project once the previous one is completed.
  • Community collections: what are the challenges?

    1. 1. Community collections: what are the challenges ? Paola Marchionni, Programme Manager Digitisation @paolamarchionni
    2. 2. What did we do? programme to foster public engagement with online content Why did we do it?*rise of social media * lots of interesting content, knowledge and expertise out there *widening participation and public engagement agendas *new approaches to digitisation and contentcreation *two-way engagement between content providers and audiences
    3. 3. Challenge #1:engaging a variety of communities •There are many disparate ‘communities’ out there to potentially engage with, with their own ‘culture’: schools, heritage orgs; socially excluded groups, citizen at large •How do we successfully engage with all of them? What are the barriers? •What kind of interaction (human mediation/automated task-based) and technologies will be appropriate? (eg digitisation, transcription, UGC, task resolution)
    4. 4. Challenge #2:blurring the boundaries, ‘users’ as creators •Paradigm shift where members of the public are not just ‘users’ or ‘volunteers’ but become creators, co-curators, cataloguers, editors, historians, digitisation collaborators. •But what implications does this have on notions of trust, authority, quality, IPR? •What does this mean for researchers, educators, learners?
    5. 5. Challenge #3:motivation, recognition and impact •People/communities will need some kind of motivation and gratification for taking part. •How do we ensure this is a two- way exchange where all parties benefit (eg sharing knowledge and expertise, developing digital literacy, encouraging social cohesion…) •Making it fun? •Providing reward opportunities?
    6. 6. Challenge #4:it’s not all ‘free’– sustainability •A lot of resources go into community collections projects: technical infrastructure, community interaction, data management, maintenance… •How can community collections/crowdsourcing be developed as part of a larger public engagement mission? •What about scalability?
    7. 7. Screen grabs on slidesJISC Content portal : (all digital collections funded or licenced by JISC) JISC Community Collections programmes: Developing Community Content Content programme 2011 Strand B: Developing Community Collections My Leicestershire History – Image ref (cover slide) Strandlines (slide 2) Old Weather (slide 2) RunCoCo/Great War Archive and (slide 3) Transcribe Bentham: (slide 3) Digitalkoot (slide 4) My Leicestershire History – Image ref: 35) (slide 4) Old Weather (slide 5)
    8. 8. Other JISC resources Digitisation, Curation and Two-Way Engagement (feasibility study on running community collections projects) “ RunCoCo: how to run a community collection online” in Clustering and Sustaining Digital Resources Capturing the Power of the Crowd and the Challenge of Community Collections Forthcoming (Jan 2013) Evaluation and synthesis of JISC Developing CommunityContent and Developing Community Collections programmes (for more information, please email Paola Marchionni