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JWA's Encyclopedia of Jewish Women, Mar 2009


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In 2009, the Jewish Women's Archive got permission to put the Encyclopedia of Jewish Women, online. Launched on Mar 1, 2009, in time for Women's History Month, the Encyclopedia was an attempt to make the 2000 articles accessible and to promote engagement, re-mixing, and re-use.

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JWA's Encyclopedia of Jewish Women, Mar 2009

  1. 1. THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF JEWISH WOMEN Re-imagining the Encyclopedia in the Age of the Internet Ari Davidow Consultant/Strategist
  2. 2. IN 1997 A revolutionary, 2-volume book
  3. 3. IN 2007 A revolutionary, CD-ROM
  4. 4. REFERENCE RICHES! From Sarah Aaronsohn to Krystyna Zywulska, this electronic encyclopedia contains 1,690 biographical entries, 300 topic essays, and 1,400 photographs and illustrations. Together they capture the histories and achievements of Jewish women from biblical times to the present day and shed light on their changing roles worldwide. Accessible to lay readers and scholars alike, this exceptional work contains such valuable features as: • Full-text search of all articles and captions, plus category, century, and country searches • Extensive cross-references • Glossary with pop-up definition links throughout With contributions from over 1,000 world-famous historians and scholars, this is an unparalleled reference. Academic Sponsors: The Institute of Jewish Studies and the Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
  6. 6. What can you do online that is as engrossing as reading several encyclopedia volumes, spread out on the floor?
  7. 7. First, expose the metadata. If we use tag clouds, people can see “how much”
  8. 8. Expose the metadata whenever you list an article. Now you have a Table of Contents that puts each entry in perspective
  10. 10. We wanted to ensure that each element could be shared, remixed, used on its own
  11. 11. … and that readers could continue to add to the story.
  12. 12. … and they do.
  13. 13. ACCLAIM & CONSEQUENCES (Project completed 2 weeks early.) Launched on March 1, 2009, for Women’s History Month Articles in all major Jewish media, blog posts, and more Doubling of web traffic to, where the Encyclopedia today constitutes the major source of web traffic. New data formats (ways to enable discovery, re-mix, sharing down to the individual element) and use of CMS (Drupal) helped lead project to bring JWA exhibits into one common internal structure (still being completed) New tools for gathering stories on
  14. 14. NEXT STEPS
  15. 15. Tweeting the Encyclopedia of Jewish Women
The Forward's Sisterhood blog, May 9, 2011.
"Although they were asked to commit to tweeting just one article a week, many of the partners have immediately embraced the project and have been tweeting multiple articles a day. Three days into the effort, 58 articles had already been tweeted — and retweeted many times over.” "Abusch-Magder, who suggested the project idea to JWA, sees this as an experiment in harnessing the power of social media to let people transmit and translate historical information in their own way and to their own networks. 'Scholars are not going to make history popular, but something like this will,' the rabbi said."
  16. 16. To see the Encyclopedia in person: