Blog Post

Cumulative impact of HASTAC membership on external social media

The MarineLives academic/public history hybrid project has had a presence within HASTAC since late January 2014.

It has been a fantastic learning experience to see such an active community (and communities) of interest, supported by decent technology.

Our leadership and advisory team has been fascinated to see the impact of our membership on our own social media, especially on our blog (The Shipping News) and on our account.

We have written about our approach to social media and collaboration in a recent HASTAC blog article: Social media and collaborative history

The figure below supplements this earlier article with an analysis of visit data to our own blog. We have seen a significant impact of our HASTAC membership (and our activity within HASTAC) on our blog visit numbers over the last three weeks. 

Is this a controlled experiment?

Well, its about as good as it gets - during this period we have published no new articles in the Shipping News (which would normally lead to automatic downloads and prompted visits), and we have not actively promoted the Shipping News through our Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Comments and shared experiences of other HASTAC members would be appreciated


Figure 1


Sample content:

Language and Identity, The Shipping News, November 24th, 2013

The Admiralty Court and the Spanish West Indies, The Shipping News, October 7th, 2013

Cannibal Tales, The Shipping News, May 18, 2013

Fishing for Whales (Part One), The Shipping News, January 22, 2013



Thank you so much for sharing this news, and your previous data too, about how being part of the HASTAC network has had a significant impact on your visibility.  That is exactly how we want network members to see one result of their participation.  That is, HASTAC should not only be a a place where you spread news, make announcements, read great articles relevant to your research, teaching, and learning, or find out what is happening.  Because it is a NETWORK, because it is an OPEN COMMUNITY, your contribution should also have a "network effect" throughout the rest of your online and maybe offline career.  


Marco Toledo Bastas is a Postdoctoral Fellow on our NSF EAGER grant studying the interdisciplinary impact of our open community on fields, on individuals, on allied organizations.  I hope you two can be in touch and share information.   This ancillary effect is what we hope for.  I believe you may be the first person actually tracking it and sharing that information back with other network members.  Thank you!   We hope to see more of this in the future from other members of the network who use HASTAC to expand their reach and impact in the world.  


You make very interesting points regarding network benefits, interactions and synergies at the levels of individuals, organisations and research fields.

Dissecting network interactions

We would certainly be interested in sharing data with Marco Toledo Bastas, with whom we have already been briefly in touch, and in discussing methodologies to quantify and dissect the effects of different social media when they are being used in combination.

Motivation and recognition for social research collaboration

We are interested to see how young scholars are using social media and collaborative tools in their research

Specifically, we (MarineLives), together with our academic partners, are interested in how best to motivate PhD candidates and early career scholars to work together on collaborative annotation of our growing corpus of transcribed Admiralty Court records.

We are currently in discussion with the Department of Creative Computing at Bath Spa University (England), Dr Christian Morbidoni at University of Ancona (Italy), and PhD candidates at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (Switzerland) and at the University of York (England) about setting up a Proof of Concept of collaborative annotation. The results would probably be reported out to the management committee of the Digitised Manuscripts to Europeana (DM2E) project, which we are joining as an associate partner at the suggestion of the Data and Web Science Group at the University of Mannheim.

The Proof of Concept will probably involve converting one of our wikis, which contain transcribed English Admiralty Court records into RDF triples, and then working with a linked data annotator such as Pundit. We will be testing technology, but eighty percent of the proposed Proof of Concept will be about the dynamics and psychology of collaboration:

* How do you persuade notoriously competitive academics early in their careers, facing a tough employment situation, to share data and to build on the data of others, without the formal mechanism of co-authorship of a paper or a position on a recognised panel or conference?

* How do you persuade young academics, whom others may assume (especially their seniors in academia) to be "digitally native", but who are really learning just like the rest of us, to take risks with unfamiliar technologies?

* How do you persuade the same young academics to put their names to fragments of ideas, interim notes, work-in-process - the sort of material which when aggregated together enables the same academics (or others) to find patterns, and to develop and test hypotheses?

We certainly have some ideas, which we would like to test.  But we would be delighted if any HASTAC scholars with a background in history or linked data would like to discuss their ideas and proposed solutions to the above and to get involved in planning the Proof of Concept, which is likely to start in September 2014.