1. Social Knowledge Creation and Conveyance

Our intention in this first section of the annotated bibliography, Social Knowledge Creation and Conveyance, is to provide an environmental scan of the current state of social knowledge creation, conveyance, and production in its many nodes and manifestations. Additionally, this section exposes the relevance of social knowledge creation for current scholarly endeavours and institutions. Many of the books, articles, collections, blog posts, tools, and projects cited inevitably call for institutional transformation and herald a predicted sea change of academic structures in terms of pedagogy, publishing, and production. These calls for reform rely on inherently social structures of creation and engagement. Widespread institutional change is notoriously slow and can be opposed by many, but the shift from models of single authorship and hoarded knowledge to acknowledging networks of shared knowledge creation may indicate a deconstruction of the real or perceived boundary between academic and non-academic communities. The utopian ideal that digital technology can democratize knowledge—and thereby notions of authority and even resources—signals a unique opportunity for social knowledge creation. In this section we aim to synopsize beneficial resources and trends for individuals invested in digital scholarship, academic reform, and cross-community collaboration.

Although certain resources included in this section of the annotated bibliography do derive from science and technology studies or library studies, the entries as a whole reveal a significant bias toward the humanities (and often the digital humanities). Moreover, this section often focuses on scholarly praxis concerns, as evinced by the substantial number of resources relevant to academic publishing or developing digital humanities projects. This bias does not suggest that social knowledge creation practices are limited to humanities scholars, researchers, and practitioners—fascinating and relevant scholarship has been executed in other fields. Rather, the distinct angle speaks to a more specific underlying purpose of this annotated bibliography: to supplement the research of humanities scholars whose interests lie in studying or developing electronic projects and initiatives within the framework of socially produced knowledge. In keeping with the overarching social theme, this annotated bibliography would likely benefit from a comprehensive expansion into other disciplines. The term “social knowledge creation” can easily become a muddled or catchall phrase. We consider social knowledge creation as acts of collaboration in order to engage in or produce shared cultural data and/or knowledge products, but in order to more clearly delineate a research scope, the following annotated bibliography has been categorized by specific topoi. The document contains 187 individual entries, which are divided into 12 distinct categories (and collected into an alphabetical list at the end of the section):

  1. History of Social Knowledge Production
  2. Society, Governance, and Knowledge Construction and Constriction
  3. Designing Knowledge Spaces Through Critical Making
  4. Social Media Communities, Content, and Collaboration
  5. Spatial Humanities and Digital Mapping
  6. Crowdsourcing
  7. Discipline Formation in the Academic Context
  8. Public Humanities
  9. The Shifting Future of Scholarly Communication and Digital Scholarship
  10. Social Knowledge Creation in Electronic Journals and Monographs
  11. Social Knowledge Creation in Electronic Scholarly Editions and e-Books
  12. Exemplary Instances of Social Knowledge Construction
  13. A Complete Alphabetical List of Selections

The majority of the 187 entries reflect scholarship generated after 2000. The remaining entries include seminal resources such as Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish (1977) and Jerome McGann’s The Textual Condition (1991). Each category contains from 7 to 42 entries, and entries have been cross-posted between categories when appropriate.

We have arranged the Social Knowledge Creation and Conveyance section in a trajectory that moves from the foundational to the abstract to the contemporary, and eventually settles on pertinent instantiations. The first category, “History of Social Knowledge Production,” reflects on the narratological basis of contemporary social knowledge creation practices. This category gestures toward three interrelated fields: textual studies (with a focus on the advent of print and its consequences), historical scholarly practices (specifically of scholarly communication, academic journals, and peer review), and media history (concerning the social context of various media and mediums). The conception of knowledge production as plural represents the point of contact between these fields—knowledge is built out of a composite network of players, history, politics, and social contexts. The 14 selected works in this category analyze past practices and instances of social knowledge production in order to more comprehensively understand those of the present.

The second category, “Society, Governance, and Knowledge Construction and Constriction,” represents the political and ideological implications of socially creating (or, more often, synthesizing) knowledge. We concede that insofar as it proves rewarding to analyze productive social knowledge construction practices and theories, it is equally pressing to analyze where social knowledge construction is restricted, limited, or ideologically ordered. This category spans a range of subjects from critical theory to sociotechnology studies, and surveys the field of knowledge production from a theoretical standpoint. Additionally, this section examines the politics of group dynamics, and the negotiation and construction of public space—incorporating such foundational publications as Jürgen Habermas’s The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (1991) as well as more contemporary works. Many of the 32 selections directly engage with the digital environment and computational culture. Pertinent questions raised by the selections in this category include: Who constrains knowledge, and how? Through which channels does knowledge flow? And, perhaps most pressing, how does acknowledging the constriction of knowledge influence our present and future decisions regarding policy, law, and society?

“Designing Knowledge Spaces Through Critical Making” surveys scholarship regarding cognizant design, especially in the digital humanities-oriented field of critical making. Critical making integrates the previously disparate fields of more abstract, conceptual critical theory and a sustained commitment to design and building. The 21 selections in this annotated bibliography represent an underlying consensus that since knowledge is frequently created through the collaboration of various individuals, methodologies, and tools, the design of these interactions (or the space where the interactions occur) needs to be examined and implemented critically. As such, many of the selections focus on how to design digital projects and spaces that stimulate social knowledge creation while maintaining certain ethical or discipline-based standards. Articulated through ideas of “learning by doing” and hands-on collaboration, critical making often focuses on social knowledge production with a more literal interpretation of the term “production.”

The rise of social media has encouraged a unique proliferation of transnational, national, and local communication and social knowledge creation. “Social Media Communities, Content, and Collaboration,” the fourth category, includes scholarship on Web 2.0 practices and the resulting opportunities for social knowledge creation. The polyvocal and democratic undertones of social media present a formidable opportunity for engagement between various groups of people and movements. Although the depth of social media’s influence on creating knowledge and culture remains necessarily unclear at this time, many scholars speculate on, encourage, study, and employ social media. The 23 selections in this annotated bibliography range from introducing scholarly social knowledge creation tools to analyzing the inner workings of social knowledge production in popular networks such as Facebook and Wikipedia.

The fifth and sixth categories were newly integrated in the revision of this document from “Social Knowledge Creation: Three Annotated Bibliographies” to its present manifestation. “Spatial Humanities and Digital Mapping” focuses on the practices of present-day spatial humanities research following the shift to a computational mode of spatial inquiry through digital mapping. This transition has resulted in an expanding social element in many branches of the field, and often involves working with large corpora, made possible through the automatization of geoparsing (i.e., the process of linking a place-name with its geographical identifier). From a social angle, users participate actively in the field by collecting live geospatial data on GPS-based devices and uploading them onto a map, such as in the OpenStreetMap community-driven environment. Another major constituent of digital spatial humanities is the availability of large general and field-specific open gazetteers that contain geospatial information and other location details. Many of these gazetteers consist of thousands of entries and are expanding continuously through user contribution. The open availability of geospatial information circumvents its widespread commercialization, and aligns with open access values. Rather than focusing on digital mapping tools, the 12 entries in this category survey theoretical discourse in the field, features of digital mapping, and successful social mapping initiatives. The “Crowdsourcing” category provides examples of the mobilization of social knowledge creation principles in order to assist the development of large-scale research initiatives. Many of the 17 publications in this category consider crowdsourcing through a case study lens, and use specific experiences in crowdsourcing projects to ground their exploration of best practices. Of note, this category features a number of works published by the team behind Transcribe Bentham. The included selections masterfully blend critical commentary on three related, yet distinct, areas—crowdsourcing, digital humanities, and public humanities—and are forward-looking in their attention to utilizing past experiences in order to inform and enlighten future researchers.

The seventh category, “Discipline Formation in the Academic Context,” focuses on how academic disciplines form socially, with a particular interest in the intersections between discipline formation and social knowledge creation. Ideally, academic practices and institutions evolve perpetually in order to better serve students, communities, and scholarly practitioners alike. We can often assess the history and current state of the academy through its scholarly communication and discipline formation habits. In keeping with an underlying historical bent, the 29 selected texts span the last three decades of academic writing. The more contemporary resources often tend toward graduate training in humanities programs. The entries range from particular studies of specific areas, such as first-year English composition requirements in Canada and the development of ballooning as a field, to wider-lens views of contemporary scholarly institutions at large. Certain selections draw from other disciplines and are intended to reflect on similarities and differences between disciplines. Overall, the entries aim to provide a sense of the varied practices involved in contemporary discipline formation, with an eye to humanities methods.

“Public Humanities” is another new category in this iteration of the annotated bibliography. This category focuses on problem-based scholarship in which members of the university and community engage in discourse that addresses relevant problems in the community, and work on practical ways of solving them. Public humanities now occupy a more central position in institutional practices as a response to the persistent request for universities to be more engaged with community life and enhancement. The public sphere has critized higher education institutions for indulging in isolated, highly specialized, discipline-specific areas at the cost of civic engagement, while still relying on public funding. Many scholars find the humanities especially suited to engage the suggested behavioural change due to the field’s disposition to critically discern large, complex problems. The seven selections in this category address the shift toward a more publicly engaged scholarship and the role that the humanities could occupy in the public sphere. It provides models to overcome current limitations in university policy, while integrating an appropriate infrastructure for growth.

The ninth, tenth, and eleventh categories are centred explicitly on academic concerns of social knowledge creation in the digital realm. Category 9, “The Shifting Future of Scholarly Communication and Digital Scholarship,” raises a series of questions: What is the role of the humanities in social knowledge production? How can academics harness new tools and modes of scholarship to engage productively with each other as well as with other members of the public? How can the humanities actively reflect on and proactively repurpose the history of scholarly communication? How can digital practices, including publishing, foster social knowledge creation from within the academy? What is the role of open access in social knowledge creation? The 42 selections attend to these questions and branch out further, from rethinking literary criticism to imagining future digital libraries to politicizing the digital humanities. The most stimulating and notable intersections occur when the social and the scholarly overlap. In categories 10 and 11, we consider how current scholarly communication preferences of scholars and editorial teams have led to the thoughtful development of digital scholarly publications. The 14 selections of category 10, “Social Knowledge Creation in Electronic Journals and Monographs,” consider how journals and monographs can enable and enact social knowledge practices in the online sphere. In many instances, authors meditate on how these actions can benefit scholarship and scholars both inside and outside the academy. In other cases, authors advocate for further integration of the democratic, user-based interactions and productions encouraged by the rise and popularity of Web 2.0 practices. In still other entries, authors ruminate on the history of the academic journal and apply this knowledge to the current state of scholarly communication. Taken as whole, the selections introduce the nuanced conversation surrounding contemporary journal and monograph production. Category 11, “Social Knowledge Creation in Electronic Scholarly Editions and e-Books,” acknowledges how the form and function of digital scholarly editions and e-books have evolved in parallel with the Internet itself. Simultaneously, digital scholarly editions and e-books carry forward and reflect bibliographic theories, often concerning the inherent sociality of texts. The 24 selections consider many far-reaching issues, including how editors can harness the allowances of the digital realm to best represent the social text, and how authors can facilitate social knowledge creation via electronic publication. Many selections also reflect on content creators integrating already-existent social knowledge production practices within their projects. Perhaps most noteworthy, certain selections ask what is lacking in digital editions, and how they might be improved.

The twelfth category, “Exemplary Instances of Social Knowledge Construction,” provides a sampler of particularly relevant social knowledge creation tools and platforms. In our conception of the term, a social knowledge creation tool is a usable technology that encourages the collaborative work of multiple individuals in a networked, digital environment. Furthermore, a social knowledge creation tool supports the active generation of information or knowledge in an ethos of sharing, contact, and openness. The 11 selections in this category reflect a range of practices and social knowledge creation tools, from community bibliography to folksonomy tagging to collaborative annotation. Finally, a complete alphabetical list of selections concludes this section of the annotated bibliography.

Social Knowledge Creation and Conveyance moves consciously among what may at first appear to be disparate schools of thought. With purposely broad strokes, the document comments on the productive or beneficial qualities of social knowledge production, and should be considered as a supplemental resource for those interested in studying, initiating, or participating in social knowledge creation. Readers can expect to gain a nuanced sense of the history, stakes, opportunities, and conversation surrounding contemporary social knowledge practices, especially in the digital realm.