Thursday, August 12, 2010

Liquid Publication for the Sciences (?)

Yesterday I got a notification of a project headed by Fabio Casati, of the University of Trento in Italy, which could be of interest to us. It is a Framework 7 project (an EU funded project) which, according to their website, "proposes a paradigm shift in the way scientific knowledge is created, disseminated, evaluated and maintained. This shift is enabled by the notion of Liquid Publications, which are evolutionary, collaborative, and composable scientific contributions. Many Liquid Publication concepts are based on a parallel between scientific knowledge artifacts and software artifacts, and hence on lessons learned in (agile, collaborative, open source) software development, as well as on lessons learned from Web 2.0 in terms of collaborative evaluation of knowledge artifacts."

I am not yet sure, as it is not certain what exactly they mean by this, but such an idea could have consequences for our future work. I will contact Casati and see what this is all about and report back.

Best, R.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Paper 1 is FINALLY published!

After two years of being 'in press', our first paper to be completed and submitted has finally come out!

Srinivasan, Ramesh, Katherine M. Becvar, Robin Boast, and Jim Enote. 2010. Diverse knowledges and contact zones within the digital museum. Science, Technology, and Human Values, 35(5): 735-768.

"As museums begin to revisit their definition of ‘‘expert’’ in light of theories about the local character of knowledge, questions emerge about how museums can reconsider their documentation of knowledge about objects. How can a museum present different and possibly conflicting perspectives in such a way that the tension between them is preserved? This article expands upon a collaborative research project between the Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology at Cambridge University, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center to compare descriptions of museum objects by multiple expert communities. We found that narratives and objects in use are key omissions in traditional museum documentation, offering us several possibilities to expand our concept of digital objects. Digital objects will allow members of indigenous source communities to contribute descriptive information about objects to support local cultural revitalization efforts and also to influence how objects are represented in distant cultural institutions."

This is possibly our most important paper, and features an informational graphic that I created (and of which I am quite proud):

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

paper brainstorming - typology of digital collections - more thoughts

So I've had a chance to do some brainstorming about this 'digital collections typology' -- thinking about the variables that we can use to compare the different projects that use digital technologies to share their collections with stakeholder communities.

The first one that emerged was How is source community knowledge regarded?

On one end of the spectrum there are projects that use the language of sharing: knowledge is given, collected, enhances collections information. The majority of the projects I've seen fall in this camp, I think.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are projects that recognize that knowledge is not monolithic: there is dialogue and sometimes disagreement, there are multiple perspectives about objects -- the incommensurability that we keep talking about in some of our earlier papers.

Another variable that we might use is How are users regarded?
Are they active agents in producing information? or passive consumers of information?

-- a related issue to this one is how easy is it for a user to contribute to the catalog? Is it as easy as filling in a field and pressing 'submit'? or are there more steps involved in becoming someone the museum thinks worthy of contributing to the collection information?

There were several other issues that I thought of, but they did not seem to fall on a spectrum or axis:

-- local use of information -- how is the information used locally? do the projects acknowledge that collections information can be used in unexpected ways within source communities? do they facilitate this local 'life' of information?
-- identification of individual contributors -- whether the 'community knowledge' comes from named individuals, or if it's added in without identifying who it came from.

I'm sure other issues will emerge, and I will refine (and possibly combine) some of these variables, but that's what I have for now.