Katherine Skinner - Collaborative Digital Scholarship


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A presentation given at the University of North Texas about the formation of the field of digital scholarship and its implications for scholarship. Emphasis placed on the roles available for scholars and librarians in this developing arena.

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  • Institutions evolve in RECIPROCAL RELATIONSHIP with social structures and historical circumstances Networks of people (Becker) New fields/genres (women’s music) Overlap in institutional/aesthetic (country music and authenticity) Fringes: Leblebici and broadcast music. How create profitable business structure when anyone with a radio can listen? (also the jukebox) Consumers: think of the people meter and its importance in broadcast TV. Or Kerr—early film industry struggled to break out of novelty—employing cartels and patent pools as they fought for shares of the budding industry. FANS found the key, though, as the star took on trademark value to audiences. Film industry capitalized on this; consumers had huge impact on organizational structure This gives us an interdisciplinary framework for approaching questions about the interactions of industry, cultural productions, and historical moments of heightened social and political change
  • Social change = intricate patterns of activity/influences/orientations Although various publishing models have been tested, both by commercial entities and by the scholarly community, no particular model has emerged as an institutionalized forum for scholarly publishing to date.   Sociological studies have demonstrated that industries, including scholarly publishing, do not organize in permanent manners, but adopt different strategies in response to cultural contexts, technological advances, market circumstances, and policy changes. In times of technological advances (e.g., the printing press and the broadcast medium), innovators at the fringes of the field often have the capacity to redefine the operations of that field.   In a similar way, new digital environments for the humanities and social sciences are transforming the intellectual landscape. The ensuing hum of activities in digital library initiatives, digital history centers, and various individual ventures into internet publishing leaves open such questions as: what does digital scholarship look like? How is it peer reviewed? Who publishes it? Will it be validated by the scholarly community? And who has access to it, and under what circumstances?
  • Impact is on the field as a whole. Few works are produced these days that don’t rely on the computer for research, writing, publication (even if it’s then printed off), and management (library catalogs/google/etc) Today, we’re going to be a bit narrower in definition, but arguably, all scholarship fits into the transforming field. It is scholarship , the “digital” modifier is beginning to lose meaning.
  • Report of the American Council of Learned Societies Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities and Social Sciences Examples: slavevoyages.org; zotero, TAPORtools, “Difference Slavery Made” But what about studying digital medium? Or publishing content that is hypermedia—Vectors or SSP?
  • method or medium driven? Scholar at the center
  • Moving target: looks very different every year as the technology changes and as more scholars come to the digital table Still-emerging: technical and organizational infrastructure still weak at best Enabler: powerful tools are allowing us to process and analyze information in ways that weren’t possible pre-digital. Think of slavevoyages Pace: Moving faster? Think of years in the archives vs. searching across them via the internet or Tony’s experience editing Eliot using online books
  • Blurring prior binaries like creator/consumer in some of this collaborative work; enriching scholarship and collections in the process. Witness “The Great War” from U of Oxford as key example. Origins doing a similar thing as well.
  • cycle includes rising prices, escalating library budgets, cut backs, and decreasing access to information: in short, what has long been termed a crisis for scholarly communication.
  • Southern Spaces Voyages and Origins Global Health Chronicles Dawson Collection SouthComb
  • Breaking conventions: think about an e-journal. We did in 2004 as we created Southern Spaces. Rolling publication, not package. Ensure ability to update text while also preserving cited content over time. Publish in multiple spaces (iTunes U and our own journal) to maximize reach of content. Free content (Open Access). Publishing scholarship that is multimedia in its meaning, not just in form. Optimizing use: Publishing for a web savvy audience; we’d better be using the same tools that corporations do to increase our reach. Ensuring viability: watch form, formats, etc with an eye toward long-term accessibility REQUIRES input from a wide variety of roles: scholar, marketing, designer, librarian, technologist. So did print publishing. Question is, what roles will we continue to play and how do they transform as a result of the change in media?
  • Katherine Skinner - Collaborative Digital Scholarship

    1. 1. Katherine Skinner Executive Director, Educopia Institute University of North Texas December 11, 2009
    2. 2. <ul><li>Field formation, 101 </li></ul><ul><li>What is digital scholarship </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative networks and digital scholarship </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Creation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sustainability </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Educopia’s mission and vision </li></ul>Skinner 12/11/09
    3. 3. <ul><li>Once prevalent thought: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>business logics and models sustained by media industries exert dangerously stable control over the production of cultural products </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(Adorno, Bagdikian, Hall, Hebdige) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Now, more common understanding: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>fields (or genres) are social constructions with organizing principles that are always in flux, and that imbue content with particular meanings (DiMaggio, Leblebici, Peterson, Negus ) </li></ul></ul>Skinner 12/11/09
    4. 4. <ul><li>Cultural processes of production, distribution, and reception depend upon networks of people </li></ul><ul><li>Significant cultural events, including activism, often allow specifically for the emergence of new fields and genres </li></ul><ul><li>Large degree of overlap in institutional and aesthetic developments </li></ul><ul><li>Watch the fringes of the field for key entrepreneurs </li></ul><ul><li>Consumers may make use of cultural content in ways that affect organizational structures </li></ul>Skinner 12/11/09
    5. 5. <ul><li>Shift from print to digital – moment of transformative social change (well beyond academia!) </li></ul><ul><li>Our changing modes of communication are changing scholarship </li></ul><ul><ul><li>production, dissemination, reception, and preservation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>We play a pivotal role—whether passively or actively—in how this field is emerging </li></ul>Skinner 12/11/09
    6. 6. <ul><li>all scholarship? </li></ul>Skinner 12/11/09
    7. 7. <ul><li>ACLS Report gives (humanities/SS) examples: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Building a digital collection of information for further study and analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Creating appropriate tools for collection-building </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Creating appropriate tools for the analysis and study of collections </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Using digital collections and analytical tools to generate new intellectual products </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Creating authoring tools for these new intellectual products, either in traditional forms or in digital form </li></ul></ul>Skinner 12/11/09
    8. 8. <ul><li>Scholarly content that depends upon digital media in its production, analysis, and/or publication; </li></ul><ul><li>Digital tools and services created to address scholarly issues; </li></ul><ul><li>The study and analysis of digital media and culture </li></ul>Skinner 12/11/09
    9. 9. <ul><li>Moving target </li></ul><ul><li>Still-emerging field </li></ul><ul><li>Enabler of new knowledge via new forms </li></ul><ul><li>Pace-changer for scholarly inquiry </li></ul>Skinner 12/11/09
    10. 10. <ul><li>Philosophical and practical battle </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Who creates content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Who may contribute in this process? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How is that content shared </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who pays for content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who owns/controls content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who provides life-cycle management for content </li></ul></ul>Skinner 12/11/09
    11. 11. <ul><li>More often than not… </li></ul><ul><li>University hires/pays scholar </li></ul><ul><li>Scholar produces content </li></ul><ul><li>Scholar/university/press pays to publish </li></ul><ul><li>Publisher disseminates content </li></ul><ul><li>Publisher charges university for content </li></ul><ul><li>University maintains/preserves content </li></ul>Skinner 12/11/09
    12. 12. <ul><li>Same basic model, but now… </li></ul><ul><li>Publisher-as-commercial-entity charges university to rent content </li></ul><ul><li>University pays/works to preserve rented content </li></ul>Skinner 12/11/09
    13. 13. <ul><li>This was NOT an optimal development for the scholar or for the University </li></ul>Skinner 12/11/09
    14. 14. <ul><li>Scholars/researchers as producers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But beware the “Wizard of Oz” syndrome </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Library, University Press (in a new skin), and academic societies as disseminators </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But we can’t easily go at this alone… </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Library as preservation / long-term access provider </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Again, the lone ranger model fails… </li></ul></ul>Skinner 12/11/09
    15. 15. <ul><li>Richer approaches to data and technology within libraries (data curation) </li></ul><ul><li>Deeper relationships between scholars and these data curators </li></ul><ul><li>New relationships between divisions that train PhDs and the Library (i-schools have an opportunity here; so do libraries) </li></ul>Skinner 12/11/09
    16. 16. <ul><li>Structured, dependable collaborations across institutions that are not unduly influenced by any one institution or scholar </li></ul><ul><li>Do we also need another type of entity to govern these partnerships? </li></ul>Skinner 12/11/09
    17. 17. <ul><li>Because, contrary to conventional wisdom, we have always done so </li></ul><ul><li>and… </li></ul><ul><li>Because of the bottom line: this may be the only way to create a viable costing model that we can largely control for ourselves </li></ul>Skinner 12/11/09
    18. 18. <ul><li>Challenges: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We’re still inventing digital scholarship </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We’re still inventing its support apparatus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Technological, administrative infrastructures </li></ul></ul></ul>Skinner 12/11/09
    19. 19. <ul><li>Who creates content? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Scholars, technologists, designers, and librarians </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Includes tools/infrastructure </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple roles demand collaboration </li></ul><ul><li>Cyberinfrastructure cannot be built with silos; need cross-institutional engagement </li></ul>Skinner 12/11/09
    20. 20. <ul><li>Once created, how do we manage these resources? </li></ul><ul><li>Focus is on: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Breaking out of print conventions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Optimizing use </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ensuring viability </li></ul></ul>Skinner 12/11/09
    21. 21. <ul><li>Long-term access is a long-term problem and expense </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative network as a means to sustaining our collaboratively developed work </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Have to think carefully about structuring/sustaining that network so that one institution or professor does not have undue influence over the collaborative’s work </li></ul></ul>Skinner 12/11/09
    22. 22. <ul><li>Collaborative Network: An association of autonomous entities collaborating to achieve common or compatible goals. </li></ul><ul><li>Source: Wikipedia.org </li></ul>Skinner 12/11/09 FLEXIBILITY FRAGILITY
    23. 23. <ul><li>Enables communities to work together on a common solution to a common problem </li></ul><ul><li>Demands attention to organizational structure in order to work </li></ul><ul><li>Requires three key elements: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A common cause </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Solid individual and institutional buy-in </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Attention to the organizational arrangement that governs the partnerships </li></ul></ul>Skinner 12/11/09
    24. 24. <ul><li>Management of… </li></ul><ul><li>Accountability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How do you allocate responsibility and tasks </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Legitimacy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How do you assure members of your clout and value </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Conflict </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How do you settle disputes and issues of authority </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Commitment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What carrots can you use for enticement and motivation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Design </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How do you set up and maintain your management structure (distributed, centralized) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Source: Milward and Provan. A Manager's Guide to Choosing and Using Collaborative Networks , 2006 </li></ul>Skinner 12/11/09
    25. 25. <ul><li>Catalyst for collaborative approaches to the production, dissemination, and preservation of scholarship </li></ul><ul><li>Help institutions coordinate through dedicated infrastructure </li></ul><ul><li>Common (neutral) ground for scholarship-oriented activities </li></ul>Skinner 12/11/09
    26. 26. <ul><li>Host of MetaArchive Cooperative </li></ul><ul><ul><li>One of two existing digital preservation services </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Non-commercial and distributed approach </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Leverages cultural memory organization resources to keep preservation “in house” rather than outsourced to vendors </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Support for scholar-driven resource development (2010/11) </li></ul>Skinner 12/11/09
    27. 27. <ul><li>Dr. Katherine Skinner </li></ul><ul><li>404 783 2534 </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>Skinner 12/11/09