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Sonic Dictionary Workshop

Sonic Dictionary logo sticker

On Friday, September 16, 2016, the Publishing Makerspace working group was honored to have the opportunity to apply our workshop model to the Sonic Dictionary.  This time, instead of workshopping three projects at lightning speed as in our last event, we were invited by the project's founder, Mary Caton Lingold, to help her run an all-day workshop, which was supported by the Mellon-funded Humanities Writ Large grant and hosted by the Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke.  The Sonic Dictionary is at a critical juncture, poised to move from Omeka to a 2.0 version to be programmed by Duke's Trinity Technology Services in Drupal.  

The all-day workshop was divided into three sessions: (1) visioning, in which we used design-charrette techniques to envision the future of the Sonic Dictionary; (2) technological development; and (3) phasing and sustainability.

During the first session, we gave the Franklin Humanities Institute's expert videographer, Eric Barstow, a workout carrying around his big camera, as we put post-its all over the walls of the Ahmadieh Family Lecture Hall and gathered in intense, timed group discussions of our ideas.  The participants (about 18), who represented multiple perspectives on the project from professors to publishers, broke into four groups for this session.  (The event was not open to the public.)

Of particular interest to me as a former reference/encyclopedia publisher was the combination of pedagogical and reference goals; that is, the Sonic Dictonary is intended to serve as an exciting and useful pedagogical tool, especially for courses in sound studies, and at the same time grow as a reference resource.  There is an intriguing tension between these two goals that has the potential to become a useful connection.  

One of the things we decided during the second session was that the project needed user scenarios--personae and use cases.  We used most of the third session to write these in small teams; I enjoyed channeling my inner reference librarian, while others took on the perspectives of students and professors.

Mary Caton generously gave us positive feedback after the workshop ("truly wonderful"), and we have sent a brief survey to all of the participants in order to start to gather more systematic feedback on the Publishing Makerspace approach. She is working on a grant proposal as well as continuing to consult with the project's board on the new interface. We look forward to seeing how the Sonic Dictionary develops from here!


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