One of the advantages of being a HASTAC Scholar is that you can pull people from different departments together to have a conversation. This showed up in my last post, and it's showing up again in today's.
On Wednesday, October 19, we talked with three professionals who provided us with critical insights into museums and archives. And we captured it on video to share. This 10-minute video features Greg Prickman, head of the University of Iowa Special Collections, Kathrine Moermond, education and outreach coordinator at the UI's Old Capitol Museum, and Nicki Saylor, head of Digital Library Services. They discuss what they've learned from their recent efforts in utilizing digital media to enhance their exhibitions and collections.
Spoiler alert: Nicki Saylor describes how one woman transcribed 400 documents in their Civil War Diaries Transcription Project, and how that kind of public engagement with "citizen scholars" can revitalize collections. (You'll hear my shocked "WOW!" in the background there.)
This moment completely changed my opinion about the role crowdsourcing plays in these type of projects. I've been thinking about it a bit pessimistically, thinking that's a way for commercial ventures to exploit unpaid labor (think Yelp! and food reviews being written by amateur journalists). The way it's talked about here inspires me to consider how this type of effort can enrich a person's life through meaningfully contributing to history's documentation. This is no crabby restaurant review. This is an experience that people will take with them, connecting with history through discovery and learning.
The video panel was inspired by the efforts of Neal Stimler, asscociate coordinator of images at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and his questions posed for the Musuem Computer Network's annual conference. This year's conference theme is Hacking the Museum and takes place November 16-19 in Atlanta, Georgia.