Oxford’s Digital Projects: Rethinking the First World War (or 'can technology move use beyond the trenches?')


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Presents the University of Oxford's First World War Digital Projects.

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  • This is the First World War Poetry Digital Archive website. We’ve c. 7,000 digital images of primary source material (manuscripts, letters, photos, service records) relating to the poetsA virtual Museum to house the digitised manuscripts of dispersed collections of WW1 poetry and related contextual material from some of the major writers of the war. Primary source material dispersed amongst libraries and archives in the UK, USA and Canada. Digitisation performed by holding institutions according to project benchmarks.No physical manifestation of this archive to compliment the online collectionBuilt up over a series of digitisation projects since 1996. Most recently funding received for Apr 07 - Mar 09 and Oct 08 - Sept 09 to expand and enhance the archive (JISC Digitisation Programme).You can see the search box where you can start exploring. And links to the Education Materials and to browse the collections of poetry.
  • Edmund Blunden
  • Isaac Rosenberg
  • Alongside our work on the poetry archive we ran The Great War Archive from March to June 2008.This was a ‘Community Collection’ to harvest digital versions of items originating from the First World War held by the general publicIt was quite innovative – involving the public in all aspects of digitisation and cataloguingIdea of a community collection- Bridge the gap between non-institutional pro-amateurs and institutional collections and their online presence.Creation of digital resources by armateursDigitisation of family history and genealogy is very popular – harnessing this power of amateur digitisation- Democratising in nature – accept everything, not selective
  • There was a very simple online submissions process Public enters basic metadataThe trick was to get the most useful information from the contributor but at the same time not making it a laborious task that would dissuade themOffered a large open ‘notes’ field for further information, anecdotes, etc.Europeana were first inspired to fund this when they saw our work in Oxford to run a short-term pilot collection like this in the UK. In 2008 we ran The Great War Archive. This was a community collection. We had enough funding to run this for 4 months only, as a test pilot. We managed to get the public to contribute stories and images of anything they had from the First World War. This was an early form of what is now called Crowdsourcing. For Germany we followed the methods of The Great War Archive. We set up a very simple online contribution form. This is an English screenshot, and the form and the whole process is available in German as well. The member of the public enters some basic metadata. The trick here is to get the most useful information from the contributor but at the same time not make it a laborious task that might put them off. There is a large open notes field for information and anecdotes. The contributor also agrees to the terms and conditions – these are equivalent to CC0 (Creative Commons Zero). Finally the contributor uploads their files – photos etc.The form – and the whole database is based on an open source Ruby On Rails system which we have developed, and the website has a simple HTML shell – all displayed with a CSS from Europeana.Not everyone is familiar with the Internet, so we ran roadshows. These roadshows were public participation days. They were coordinated by the DNB. We worked with an organisation like a state library or archive. We based ourselves there for a day and used the newspapers and the radio to invite the public to join us.These public participation days really were a bit like the BBC TV programme The Antiques Roadshow, if you have seen it? People really did queue up with their plastic bags full of photos, letters and uniforms. We would talk to them about what they have brought. Get them to fill in a form and then photograph or scan the items.So we have collected the ephemera which the museums and the rest of the world has chosen to leave undocumented. Yes, we had lots of medals and portrait photos but we also got hundreds of unpublished diaries and memoirs and photos.To moderate the contributions we have an admin system which allows our editors to: check items for their validity; correct or add to the metadata; flag items of particular interest/value.We also have a Take Down policy, and an email address where users can contact us.CLICK
  • Public Roadshows
  • It went to Germany!
  • High level of quality: An admin system allows reviewers to: check items for their validity; correct or add to the metadata; flag items of particular interest/valueFor example, this is from the collection in the UK from 2008. Last month – that’s 3 years after we ran The Great War Archive – last month I received an email saying this bus ticket is not from the First World War – it must be from World War 2!The bus ticket is not date stamped and the contribution came to us without any date information.CLICKHere’s the email. So Wow! I don’t know anything about London bus companies but this guy obviously thinks he does. So – my immediate response was to send a thank you message and explain we’ll investigate. CLICKSo I looked into who contributed the ticket in the first place – it’s the Bodleian Library! One of the oldest University libraries in the world!CLICK Isn’t this an interesting problem? A knowledgeable amateur correcting a professional and learned institution!CLICKSo as I was saying Europeana funded the German National Library to run this collection from the public. Our team at Oxford helped with training and the National Library recruited local partners. The local partners ran public participation days. There were 8 all around the country and these were the main focus for the National Library.CLICKWe have a video on YouTube about our first public day in Frankfurt, and if I have time at the end of the presentation I will show you some of it so you can see what the work is like.CLICK
  • And with Flickr you can see what happens when you let the community do what it wants – in terms of user-tags, descriptions etc. What you also see is the amazing lengths some people will go to share their knowledge and help someone else.CLICKYes, you get the silly comments – as you do with any blog, or YouTube video. But you also get responses like this – where someone has added so much information to the hazy details known by the person who first posted the photo.What you also see is the amazing lengths some people will go to share their knowledge and help someone else.
  • The creation of a suite of learning and teaching resources that provide an international, cross-disciplinary reappraisal of WW1 using digital content which will subsequently be brought together and presented as OERs.Put the ‘World’ back into ‘World War’“Get out of the trenches”Battles ‘other than the Somme’Medical aspectsReligious aspectsBattlefield archaeology War and Memory Material cultureThe legacy of the War
  • an example of new digital storytelling…temporally structured archival blogging…moving us forward in the way we look at our particular corner of history…Oxford’s precursor to tweeting the WW1 Centenary…It is now cluttered and confused, not helped by tweets commemorating the fallen; not I feel the purpose of the exercise. One possible advantage of the brevity imposed by the 140 char limit, and the disjointed nature of things that some people have mentioned: is that it gives some impression of the fragmentary, and sometimes incorrect, nature of the reports being received on the way up the chain of command.
  • Community open to open publishing and open licenses.Appeal of feedback.Opportunity for public engagement.Potential to enhance reputations.
  • Podcast series coming soon!
  • Difficulty in moving from ‘draft’ to ‘done’.Need for peer review…?Roles shift in the new writing space.Lack of relevant digitised material under an open-license.Time-consuming rights negotiations.Increase in open-literacy.Encourage organisations to openly license their content.Although they are still lagging behind their colleagues in the US, British academics are slowly but surely moving into the blogosphere. The appeal of academic feedback, as well as the opportunity for public engagement and the potential for enhancing reputations, has those who blog hooked.more academics need to be blogging if new directions in WW1 will receive the recognition that its enthusiasts seek. Only one or two senior academics have expressed contempt for it and papers must remain keyBloggingProviding the tools and the resources to create new writings, reappraisals and seed academic debate – and mechanisms to easily embed these resources to inspire new twaching and new knowledge and new writingsBlogging isn’t a new thingAcademic blogging isn’t a new thing(Although in the field of WW1 – mainly the domain of ameuature experts).Blogging to provide an OER under some (loose) editorial guidelines is relatively new.When I approached academics in the community I was familiar with I was met with absolutely no opposition to producing new OER.
  • Scraping Data from Wikipedia
  • Data from the Commonwealth War Graves
  • Spanish Flu Agent Based Model
  • Virtual World Immersion
  • Oxford’s Digital Projects: Rethinking the First World War (or 'can technology move use beyond the trenches?')

    1. 1. Rethinking the First World War(or…can technology move use beyond the trenches?) Oxford’s Digital Projects Kate Lindsay Manager for Engagement, Academic IT Services Director, World War I Centenary: Continuations and Beginnings University of Oxford @KTDigital / @WW1C
    2. 2. It all started withpoetry…. Images: British Library via the First World War Poetry Digital Archive
    3. 3. www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit
    4. 4. Images: Blunden Family Archive via the First World War Poetry Digital Archive
    5. 5. Images: Imperial War Museum via the First World War Poetry Digital Archive
    6. 6. They contributed to a community collectionwww.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit/gwa
    7. 7. http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit
    8. 8. Germany (2011)
    9. 9. Germany (2011)Luxembourg (2012)Ireland (2012)UK Preston (2012)Slovenia (2012)Denmark (2012)
    10. 10. Germany (2011)Luxembourg (2012)Ireland (2012)UK Preston (2012)Slovenia (2012)Denmark (2012)UK Banbury (3 Nov 2012)Cyprus (Nov 2012)Belgium (Dec 2012)Italy (Mar 2013)France?Poland?Malta?Austria?Switzerland?Romania?Portugal?Spain?Norway?…?
    11. 11. CC BY NC SA = Collect, Create, Remix
    12. 12. Collect - Resource Library • Links to existing high quality OER on the World Wide Web • Selected by a team of student ambassadors and academics • Global OER Widgets • Surface ‘Popular’ resources • Links to the ‘big’ WW1 OER collectionsImage: Library of Congress, WW1 Poster Archive. Public Domain.
    13. 13. @Arras95: Contribute,Collaborate, Commemorate• Twitter campaign between 9th April and 16th May 2012.• Surface a key, but lesser taught, turning point of the War.• Increase the visibility of existing open content around this one focal point• Crowdsource an archive of knowledge about the event.
    14. 14. Create - Collaborative Blog• Experts from across a range of disciplines.• New ideas, unrefined thoughts, reviews, republish previous work.• Surface existing open materials.• No style guide and requires no specific referencing format. Image: Library of Congress, WW1 Poster Archive. Public Domain.
    15. 15. Open publishing• Community open to open publishing and open licenses.• Opportunity to enhance reputation, for public engagement and get feedback..• Role shifts in a new writing space• Built open literacy• What is academic? Image: Library of Congress, WW1 Poster Archive. Public Domain.
    16. 16. RemixTo re-present digital contentaround World War I intechnologically innovative andinventive ways to showcasethe full potential of usingopen material to seedacademic debate.
    17. 17. Image: Otis Historical Archive, CC BY-NC-SA..
    18. 18. Image: Library of Congress, WW1 Poster Archive. Public Domain.
    19. 19. Can technology move us ‘beyond the trenches’? Kate Lindsay Manager for Engagement, Academic IT Services Director, World War I Centenary: Continuations and Beginnings University of Oxford @KTDigital / @WW1C