As a participant in the NCPH 2017 Working Group “Meeting in the Middle: Community Engagement in a Digital World,” ten public history practitioners and I are talking through the successes and struggles of web 2.0 projects. Seeing digital projects as places of shared authority, silence and exclusion, as well as part of the broader definition of digital citizenship, we’re looking to build thought leadership around historian participation in digital environments.
NCPH’s working groups bring together public history practitioners in the months leading up to the conference to discuss a problem in the field, define questions for that issue, and come up with an end product documented for other NCPH members. In this working group, facilitated by Kristen Baldwin Deathridge (Appalachian State University), Jane M. Davis (Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and Lara Kelland (University of Louisville), we’re hoping to develop a “best practices” manual. Working through our own case statements, we hope to critique the challenges, limitations, and divides present in the digital sphere.
I was initially interested in the questions of this particular working group as someone interested in community engagement in digital communities. Being aware of the questions left unaddressed in digital humanities as well as digital history practice, I hoped to bring to this conversation questions around audience participation. What counts as “quality” engagement? What does that kind of investment look like? And what cultural capital can we bring as practitioners to effectively shape these collaborations moving forward?
You can read my case statement on the intentions of crowdsourced transcription projects, as well as all the case statements for this working group, as a PDF on the NCPH website here.