1.xii Exemplary Instances of Social Knowledge Construction

*Cohen, Daniel J. 2008. “Creating Scholarly Tools and Resources for the Digital Ecosystem: Building Connections in the Zotero Project.” First Monday 13 (8): n.p. doi:10.5210/fm.v13i8.2233.

Cohen details how the Zotero project exemplifies both a Web 2.0 and a traditional scholarly ethos. He conceptualizes Zotero as a node in an interconnected digital ecosystem that builds bridges instead of hoarding information. Zotero is a widely used, open source, community-based bibliography tool. It exists on top of the browser as an extension, has maintained an API since its inception, and boasts comprehensive user features. As an easy-touse collaborative tool, Zotero acts as both an effective scholarly resource and a facilitator of social knowledge creation.

*Cohen, Daniel J., and Tom Scheinfeldt. 2013. “Preface.” In Hacking the Academy: New Approaches to Scholarship and Teaching from Digital Humanities, edited by Daniel J. Cohen and Tom Scheinfeldt, 3–5. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. doi:10.3998/ dh.12172434.0001.001.

Cohen and Scheinfeldt introduce Hacking the Academy, a digital publishing experiment and attempt to reform academic institutions and practices by crowdsourcing content. The editors called for submissions to their project with the caveat that participants had one week to submit. Cohen and Scheinfeldt pitched their project with the following questions: “Can an algorithm edit a journal? Can a library exist without books? Can students build and manage their own learning management platforms? Can a conference be held without a program? Can Twitter replace a scholarly society?” (3). Roughly one sixth of the 329 submissions received were included in the consequent publication. The intent of the project was to reveal the desire and possibility for large institutional change via digital means.

*Fitzpatrick, Kathleen. 2007. “CommentPress: New (Social) Structures for New (Networked) Texts.” Journal of Electronic Publishing 10 (3): n.p. doi:10.3998/3336451.0010.305.

Fitzpatrick meditates on the current state and future possibilities of electronic scholarly publishing. She focuses her consideration on a study of CommentPress, a digital scholarly publishing venue that combines the hosting of long texts with social network features. Fitzpatrick argues that community and collaboration are at the heart of scholarly knowledge creation—or at least, they should be. Platforms such as CommentPress acknowledge the productive capabilities of scholarly collaboration, and promote this fruitful interaction between academics. Although Fitzpatrick admits that CommentPress is not the only or best answer to the questions of shifting scholarly communication, she celebrates its emergence as a service for the social interconnection and knowledge production of authors and readers in an academic setting.

*—. 2011. Planned  Obsolescence:  Publishing,  Technology,  and the Future of the Academy. New York: New York University Press. (“Introduction: Obsolescence,” 1–14, and Chapter 3: “Texts,” 89– 120, are accessible at http://raley.english.ucsb.edu/wp-content2/uploads/234/Fitzpatrick.pdf.)

Fitzpatrick duly surveys and calls for a reform of academic publishing. She argues for more interactivity, communication, and peer-to-peer review, as well as a significant move toward digital scholarly publishing. Fitzpatrick demonstrates that the current mode of scholarly publishing is economically unviable. Moreover, tenure and promotion practices based primarily on traditional modes of scholarly publishing need to be reformed. Fitzpatrick acknowledges certain touchstones of the academy (peer review, scholarship, sharing ideas), and how these tenets have been overshadowed by priorities shaped, in part, by mainstream academic publishing practices and concepts. She details her own work with CommentPress, and the benefits of publishing online with an infrastructure that enables widespread dissemination as well as concurrent reader participation via open peer review.

Huffman, Steve, and Alexis Ohanian. 2005. Reddit. https://www.reddit.com.

As a popular social news site, Reddit prompts users to tag and submit content. The hierarchy of posts on the front page of the site (as well as the other pages on the site) is decided by a ranking system predicated on both date of submission and voting by other users. Reddit exemplifies social knowledge creation via folksonomy tagging in a social network environment. Notably, the news site is also open source.

*Liu, Alan. 2011. “Friending the Past: The Sense of History and Social Computing.” New Literary History: A Journal of Theory and Interpretation 42 (1): 1–30. doi:10.1353/nlh.2011.0004.

Liu identifies media-induced sociality in oral, written, and digital culture. He proceeds to analyze Web 2.0 and social computing practices, and concludes that Web 2.0 lacks a sense of history, despite its intricately interconnected state. Liu attributes this state to two concurrent historical shifts: a social move from one-to-many to many-to-many, and a temporal shift from straightforward conceptions of time into the contemporary conception of instantaneous and simultaneous temporality. Reflexively, Liu argues that conceiving of time in this new instantaneous/simultaneous framework may ideologically proprietize the Internet and allow for ownership of social practices by organizations such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google. As such, Liu opts for a more traditional sense of temporality and history characterized by narratological linear time. He cites the social network system of his Research-oriented Social Environment (RoSE) project as a platform that integrates history with Web 2.0 infrastructure and allowances.

Michel, Jean-Baptiste, Yuan Kui Shen, Aviva Presser Aiden, Adrian Veres, Matthew K. Gray, Google Books Team, Joseph P. Pickett, Dale Hoiberg, Dan Clancy, Peter Norvig, Jon Orwant, Steven Pinker, Martin A. Nowak, and Erez Lieberman Aiden. 2011. “Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books.”Science 331 (6014): 176–82. doi:10.1126/science.1199644.

The authors detail some of the processes and findings of Google’s NGram viewer and the related field of study, “culturomics.” They argue that an analysis of word frequencies in a large corpus of texts brings to light linguistic and therefore cultural trends. Using word frequency and variation as the predominant metric, Michel et al. discuss various social and historical trends. They do not, however, account for the reductionist concept that word frequency in a selected corpus can attest to or represent all of the varying social movements, actors, and contexts that make up a cultural trend.

Mozilla Foundation. 2011. Open Badges. https://openbadges.org.

Mozilla’s Open Badges is an alternative credential-granting system designed for the public recognition of non-conventional learning and success. Broadly articulated as a democratizing service, Open Badges allows various organizations to accredit their participants within a recognizable system. In an era of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and citizen scholars, Open Badges embodies the ethos of the decentralized network of contemporary learning, accreditation, and social knowledge creation.

*Nowviskie, Bethany. 2012a. “A Digital Boot Camp for Grad Students in the Humanities.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. Last modified April 29, 2012. https://www.chronicle.com/article/A-Digital-Boot-Camp-for-Grad/131665.

Nowviskie discusses the Praxis program she directs out of the Scholars’ Lab at the University of Virginia. She demonstrates how a combined commitment to interdisciplinarity, collaboration, and tacit knowledge is used to effectively train graduate students in contemporary humanities (and especially digital humanities) work. Nowviskie acknowledges the challenges and benefits of blending radically new methods for graduate training with traditional humanities practices and credit systems. Overall, she reiterates the value of training graduate students in an open-ended, community-minded way; in this way, humanities programs can facilitate both graduate and postgraduate school careers.

Open Knowledge Foundation. 2009–12. AnnotateIt / Annotator. http://annotateit.org.

AnnotateIt is an effective and easy to use system that enables online annotations. A bookmarklet is used to add the JavaScript tool Annotator to any web page; users can then annotate or comment on various elements on the page, and save the annotations to AnnotateIt. This sort of tool readily facilitates social knowledge creation through collaborative annotation. User annotations may contain tags, content created using the Markdown conversion tool, and individual permissions per annotation. Annotator is also easily extensible, allowing for the potential inclusion of more behaviours or features. Of note, the Open Knowledge Foundation has developed many social knowledge creation tools, including BibServer (https://github.com/okfn/bibserver), CKAN (http://ckan.org/), and TEXTUS (http://textusproject.org/)—all of which are annotated in this bibliography.

Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (George Mason University). 2007–13. Omeka. http://omeka.org.

Omeka is an example of social knowledge creation through user-driven or generated content. An open source content management system, Omeka was designed to display online digital collections of scholarly editions and cultural heritage artifacts. This content management system acts as a collections management tool and an archival digital collection system, allowing for productive scholarly and non-scholarly exhibitions to develop. Omeka includes an extensive list of features aimed at scholars, museum professionals, librarians, archivists, educators, and other enthusiasts. Of note, the Roy Rosenzweig Center also developed the open bibliography initiative Zotero (included in this annotated bibliography).