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.

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