Crowdsourcing & outreach

I mentioned briefly in my original post that we have a good deal of 19th-century textual material in what are now fairly obscure German dialects; we have scanned the originals and had parts translated, but we have two further goals with this project: 1) encourage more translations of other related material and 2) create a resource/destination for researchers to debate and discuss the materials.  (A further goal is to start digitizing our snazzy Paracelsus collection, once we have this in place as a test case – but that’s down the road).

We have the scanning and digital object handling well underway (or would, if our server upgrade were finally finished, but that’s another story – I may not be able to show off much from this collection, but can demonstrate how we are set up with some other materials), but we are looking for inspirations and ideas for the other two goals.  Since we’re looking for low IT involvement, creating a blog highlighting some of the materials and encouraging discussion in the comments is one idea, but we’d like to avoid creating an additional digital ‘space’ that we’d require users to navigate to (especially since we already have a blog for our collections in general).

Is anyone using a more interactive plugin (or similar more modular feature) to create spaces for discussion in a way that’s still tied to the digital object?  One of our concerns is that there may be a steep IT learning curve for a high percentage of scholars in this particular subfield and we’d like to make sure they all feel welcomed, so ease of use is key.  We are also looking to use the project to reach out to other scholars who might not currently be aware of the materials (likely language scholars and historians in related fields) and feel pretty confident about putting that plan in place once we know what sort of sandbox we can offer them.

Anyway, I would love to hear what suggestions everyone has and am definitely looking forward to seeing some examples of what everyone else has done.

2 Responses to “Crowdsourcing & outreach”

  1. beth harris Says:


  2. Arden Kirkland Says:

    I think there’s also a cultural, rather than technological, issue here. “Encouraging discussion” online can be a lot harder than it sounds if you’re working with a community who’s not used to it. I’m really interested in exploring crowdsourcing – but it only works if the crowd is willing! So, I’d like to talk about ways to ease the crowd into it and increase their comfort.