In the last few years there has been an increasing number of initiatives involving the general public in creating or contributing content to existing digital collections, including scholarly digital resources.
Projects have ranged from involving the general public in the cataloguing of galaxies (Galaxy Zoo) to experiments in amateur digitization to supplement a literary digital archive (First World War Poetry Digital Archive) and third sector initiatives, where citizens can get involved in issues affecting them, (Mysociety).
- What typology of user engagement is emerging from such projects?
- What kind of value might these initiatives bring to the formal education sector?
- What are the modalities for a true two-way user engagement between a project and the general public as its main contributor?
- Are there any subject areas that lend themselves more favourably to this kind of experiments?
Looking at strategic and policy issues, and taking into consideration a number of case studies, this report examines
the potential for digitising and curating collections of cultural or social worth from the general public [paying particular attention to] the principle of two-way engagement – knowledge co-creation and exchange rather than simply knowledge transfer: a dialogue which enriches knowledge for mutual benefit.
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Many digitisation projects have an interest in (or feel that they should be) engaging with social networking and communication tools.
Many projects are tempted to automatically adopt the use of sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, LinkedIn, as well as share information through Flickr, Vimeo, You Tube, Second Life, Digg, StumbleUpon, Google Groups…etc….
But with so many different tools and sites out there, and with the different range of projects and outputs that digitisation produces, it can be difficult to find the tools that will really work for your project.
It is important that time is spent on using the tools that help maximise the aims and objectives of the project itself. Resources are often limited meaning that participating in Web 2.0 simply for the sake of it is not a viable option.
There might be a variety of ways to assess the use of a particular tool or site to a project, but one way would be to create a chart to plot the use of a resource against the aims and objectives of the project.
I have created a very simplistic example of what such a chart might look like.
Examples of some recent projects that have sucessfully used Twitter for their project are:
- First World War Digital Poetry Archive – Have used a range of social networking sites very effectively including Facebook and Twitter.
- East London Lives - Although this project only has a holding website, they have been able to engage a wide audience of interested followers with Twitter and Flickr.
- Serving Soldier – Again this is a young project, but have successfully used Twitter as a way to highlight interesting parts of their collection, and engage interested communities. They have also been very strong bloggers.
Like many social networking sites, Twitter in particular is an excellent way for projects to highlight new collections they have digitised, or recently made available online.
It is also a wonderful way to create a ‘count down’ to the launch of a website or new online presence. Twitter also offers projects a unique way to ask for help, get feedback and call upon a vast and interested community of possible users.
Most important of all, it is fast and demands a limit on the amount of time and input it asks of you!
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The Strategic Content Alliance has just announced aseries of workshops across the UK that will look at the digital content lifecycle from creation to curation.
Details of the workshops can be found below, with further information on the Strategic Content Alliance’s blog.
These FREE workshops from the Strategic Content Alliance and Netskills introduce simple and inexpensive search engine optimisation techniques to improve your online presence, web visibility and website traffic.
• Maximising access and removing barriers to your content
• The importance of a structured approach to preparing content
• Content integrity and reaching the right audience
• Metadata and its significance
• Sustainable content and future proofing
• The social web and marketing
The workshops are aimed primarily at delegates from universities, archives, museums, health, public service broadcasting, schools and cultural heritage. No particular technical knowledge is required as a prerequisite.
Dates, locations and registration
10:30 Monday 29 June – 15:30 Tuesday 30 June 2009
The Mount Conference Centre – register for this workshop
09:30 Thursday 2 July – 16:15 Friday 3 July 2009
Grosvenor Hilton Hotel – register for this workshop
09:30 Monday 27 July – 16:15 Tuesday 28 July 2009
JISC Meeting Rooms, Brettenham House – register for this workshop
09:30 Thursday 30 July – 16:15 Friday 31 July 2009
Hilton Hotel – register for this workshop
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The Information Environment team has just released a new call for Rapid Innovation Grants. Further details of the call are below:
JISC invites institutions to submit funding proposals for grants to fund technical rapid innovation projects addressing priority areas.
Proposals are sought under the following priority areas:
- Mashups of open data
- Aggregating tags and feeds
- Semantic web/ linked data
- Data search
- Mobile Technologies
- Lightweight Shared Infrastructure Services
- User Interface Design
Bids for projects dealing with other areas that are relevant to the Information Environment are also welcomed.
Funding of between £15,000 – £40,000 for 6 month projects for up to 30 projects is available
The deadline for receipt of proposals in response to this call is 12 noon on Wednesday 22 April 2009.
Funding is available for projects starting in early-mid June 2009 for 6 months. All projects must be complete by 30 November 2009.
Further information can be found in the full Call
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Improving your online presence is an essential component of any digitsation project; without visitors to your site there is little point having the material digitised and available online.
Much of the web’s curent usability is dependent upon the effectiveness and effeciency of web crawlers, most prominent among these is, of course, the Google bot. The question for digitisation projects with little or no marketing budget is how to maximise your online presence to allow web crawlers access to your data. How can small scale projects organically grow their presence so that they are able to achieve that holy grail of a Google ranking?
Alastair Dunning produced a presentation on being a good data provider which offers an excellent introduction into this area.
To compliment the presentation I have compiled some key areas that should be addressed when you are considering your online presence, and how web crawlers can index even the ‘deep’ areas of your pages and data:
- Keywords : What’s your key content and messages? Compare your key words with Google AdWords, and their trends
- Monitoring Performance and Reputation: Check what noise your site is creating, and whether you are successfully attracting visitors. Tols such as: Google Analytics, Technorati, Google Alerts can be used to track your reputation and performance.
- URLs : Make sure URLs are stable. Also pay attention to your Title Tags, ensuring you include key words, your ‘brand’, and any themes.
- Sitemap : Google Sitemap - allows you to create an XML file containing all the URLs on your (public) web pages along with relevant information. Sitemaps are particularly useful for Database and Dynamic content.
- Website Architecture : Aim for fast response times, use CSS, create 404 error pages, bread crumb navigation.
- Images : Have a meaningful landing page, title attributes, file name with key words, social tagging, comments, and, enable Google Image Search!
- Build Links : Think about the groups and websites you would like to link to you, and contact them.
- Be (very) Sociable : Social media (Facebook, Second Life, YouTube, Twitter, Google Groups…), Share content (RSS, bookmarking…), Contribute (Blogger, Wiki, Twitter, Yahoo Answers…), Images and Video (Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, Picasa).
This is just a brief overview of some of the key areas you will want to think about to enhance your sites visibility, useability, and ultimately the experience that your user has in both finding and using your site and its contents.
The Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) in conjunction with the JISC’s Strategic Content Alliance recently ran a three day workshop looking at how you can improve your online presence simply and inexpensively. Many of the points raised in this article were developed and discussed in the workshop, and applied directly to cultural heritage institutions. Due to the overwhelming success of the course it is hoped that another workshop will be arranged in the next few months, further information will be made available on this blog, and the Strategic Content Alliance’s blog.
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The National e-Science Centre (NeSC) has announced a new 5 day workshop on The Influence and Impact of Web 2.0 on e-research infrastructure, applications and users. The event is open to all and will be held between 23 March – 27 March at the e-Science Institute, 15 South College Street, Edinburgh.
Aimed at the e-research and e-science communities, as well as researchers in the arts and humanities, this five day workshop will introduce web 2.0 technologies, examine cloud-based computing, users and usability, application based activities, and on the final day will hold a more interactive session and discussion.
The number of Web 2.0 services and applications, widely used by Internet users, academics, industry and enterprise, are growing rapidly, which demonstrates Web 2.0′s solid foundations. These technologies and services are based on the open standards that underpin the Internet and Web, and are used in many forms, e.g. blogs, wikis, mashups, social websites, podcasting and content tagging. This field is having a significant impact on distributed infrastructure and applications, and on the way users and developers interact. The area needs to be thoroughly investigated and understood to encourage the development of new services and applications for e-Research.
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JISC Digital Media is the new name for the Technical Advisory Service for Images (TASI). The JISC Digital Media team will continue to provide advice, training and guidance on the creation and use of digital media collections, with the expanded service now providing expertise in moving images and sound in addition to still images and their use in learning, teaching and research.
From help with finding and using the right media, to advice on creating and delivering digital formats or consultancy on managing a digitisation project, JISC Digital Media promotes good practice, technical expertise, the use of appropriate standards and the sharing of knowledge within the UK FE and HE communities.
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A year ago the Library of Congress asked members of the public to tag and describe two sets of approximately 3000 historic photos using Flickr, the photosharing website. The LOC reports that within the first 24 hours of the project starting Flickr recorded 1.1 million total views on the account, with 3.6 million views a week later, and have had 10.4 million views on Flickr up to October 2008. Very impressive figures indeed!
The project was able to stimulate interest not only in the images themselves, and it would appear from the report that the academic and public community were surprised by the depth of cultural and historic resources available at the library. But the project was also able to prompt interest in web 2.0 technologies and foster an interest in the library and its diverse resources and collections.
The LOC reported that the project pilot had the following outcomes:
- 10.4 million views of the photos on Flickr.
- 79% of the 4,615 photos have been made a “favorite” (i.e., are incorporated into personal Flickr collections).
- More than 15,000 Flickr members have chosen to make the Library of Congress a “contact,” creating a photostream of Library images on their own accounts.
- 7,166 comments were left on 2,873 photos by 2,562 unique Flickr accounts.
- 67,176 tags were added by 2,518 unique Flickr accounts.
- 4,548 of the 4,615 photos have at least one community-provided tag.
- Less than 25 instances of user-generated content were removed as inappropriate.
- More than 500 Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC) records have been enhanced with new information provided by the Flickr Community.
More information about the project and the full report can be found at the LOC’s Prints and Photographs reading room. There was also a very interesting article in the New York Times exploring tagging and descriptive metadata in Flickr and Wikipedia.
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Two new resources have been recently launched by JISC as guidance on how to deal with IPR issues in Web2.0 content and on digital preservation, including preservation of user generated content.
The free Web2Rights online diagnostic tool addresses the confusion often found when dealing with IPR in its relation to Web 2.0 within education, and provides a step-by-step user guide to ensure the protection of both their and others’ copyright in using, deploying and repurposing content.
The six minute animation below explains some of the main concepts based on three different user scenarios.
The new handbook created by JISC’s PoWR project (Preservation of Web Resources) offers a wealth of tips and information for web managers, data professionals and those making decisions concerning the long-term preservation of online resources.
With such vast quantities of digital data available on or via the Internet, the PoWR handbook encourages institutions to see the requirement for coherent preservation strategies. Key issues include prioritising what to keep, how to keep it, which preservation policies to implement, the consequences of preservation decisions and how to provide sustainable access for the future.
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The Great War Archive web site, part of the JISC-funded First World War Poetry Digital Archive project, is a powerful example of how communities can be galvanised in the creation of a unique and poignant online resource for the benefit of the wider public.
An article on the Times Higher Education Supplement “From no man’s land to a people’s memorial” reported on how thousands of people contributed their “digital memories” of WW1 to the web site by uploading their own scans of items such as diary extracts, images and even matchboxes.
Although the submission period has now closed, people can still upload their material on the project’s Flickr group, details of which are on the Great War Archive web site.
In a podcast recorded earlier this year, before the launch of the Great War Archive, Kate Lindsay, Project Manager for the First World War Poetry Digital Archive discusses this exciting development, along with the other unique features of the collection.