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A helping hand from the general public: true two-way engagement for user generated content

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.

Galaxy
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?

These are the issues tackled by a recent study commissioned by the JISC Digitisation programme, Digitisation, Curation and Two-Way Engagement.

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.

By Paola Marchionni

I work as Digitisation Programme Manager at JISC and am responsible, together with my colleague Alastair Dunning, for the successful delivery of a portfolio of projects that have been funded under the JISC Phase 2 Digitisation programme spanning 2007-2009. In addition, I lead on programme evaluation and programme support activities such as workshops and events, and work closely with the Communications and Marketing team.

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