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i-Conference 2006:
Digital Libraries as Collaborative Spaces

Dagobert Soergel (Maryland) opened the session "Digital Libraries as Collaborative Structured Information Spaces" with some unique housekeeping matters (e.g., email your questions!) and pointing to the downloadable slides (ppt). He dispensed with introductions and just showed the names of the panelists on a slide: Gary Marchionini (North Carolina) Michael Twidale (Illinois), Christine Borgman (UCLA), Ann Weeks (Maryland), Judith Klavans (Maryland).

Marchionini talked about digital libraries (DL) as "sharium" (i.e., A virtual workspace with rich content and powerful tools where people can work independently or collaborate with each other...). Twidale discussed how DL access structures can facilitate and be facilitated by collaboration. Very interesting: If we build it they will come. We built it - they didn't come - why not? They came & built it themselves. Aside from the usual examples (e.g., Flickr), he also referred to Google's PageRank as a product of implicit collaboration, and the Art Museum Social Tagging Project.

Borgman used her work on the Alexandria Digital Earth ProtoType as an example of how DLs can be used in education and the research issues involved (including "We built it and they didn't come"). Weeks spoke about DL-based collaboration in the context of the International Children's Digital Library. And it has, in fact, come a long way since I last wrote about it.

Klavans shared her experience with DLs and humanities computing involving text and images. Her project on Computational Linguistics for Metadata Building may not compare favorably with Google Images on the keyword "madonna," but since its focus is on exhibition catalogs, textbooks and scholarly journal articles, there's really no sense making the comparison.

Finally, I'm glad that I didn't get so discouraged after the last session and decide to skip this session. Libraries do, in fact, have a place in a flat world.

[5:49 pm] An interesting answer was made in reply to a question asked regarding the use of games in DLs (e.g., Peekaboom). The "Henry Ford" model refers to taking an expensive product and producing it cheaply, while the "Tom Sawyer" model involves portraying fence-painting as fun and getting other people to do the work for you for free. Which one is more prevalent online? =)

Category: i-Conference 2006

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