Monday, March 30, 2015

Week 9: Peer Review

  • How is open peer review different from traditional blind peer review, and what are the implications for academic publishing?
  • How do digital media present credit problems for authors who are pursuing tenure?
  • How can academic communities handle credit for collaborative work?
  • What implications do these articles have for the way you are receiving credit for your group projects in this class?

Sheila Cavanagh, “Living in a Digital World: Rethinking Peer Review, Collaboration, and Open Access,” Journal of Digital Humanities 1 (4).

  • How do digital media complicate traditional scholarly peer review?
  • Why would digital contributions be difficult for traditional academic departments to assess? To include in tenure and promotion reviews?
  • Who are the peers who can review digital projects? What standards do they and should they apply? Are those the same criteria that department scholarly evaluations use?
  • Why is this true (or not)?: ‘“Self-publishing” on the web, for instance, does not correspond to traditional print “self-publishing” as closely as many non-digitally savvy faculty members believe.’
  • What are the problems of traditional peer review for digital projects?
  • How should graduate training adapt to the digital age?
  • Why are humanities scholars reluctant to see collaboration as worthy of credit?
  • Why do humanities scholars need institutional support for digital projects?

Bethany Nowviske, “Evaluating Collaborative DigitalScholarship (Or, Where Credit is Due),” Journal of Digital Humanities 1 (4).
  • Why does she argue that Tenure and Promotion committees are not really qualified to assess collaborative scholarship?
  • What does this mean?: “the activity I want to argue is actually the new responsibility of tenure and promotion committees. This is your responsibility to assess quality in digital humanities work — not in terms of product or output — but as embodied in an evolving and continuous series of transformative processes.”
  • Why is so much of this essay about human relationships?
  • What should we do about the problem of digital projects never being done?
  • Is this just a lot of hand-wringing over problems that scientists and museums (and other public historians) have long-since solved?
  • “Digital humanities practitioners don’t often say, but we all know that collaborative work involves a kind of perpetual peer review.”

Kristen Nawrotski and Jack Dougherty, “Introduction,” in Writing History in the Digital Age
  • What is different about this approach to peer review?
  • Take a look at some of the original comments:
  • It might be hard to tell, since we have been reading this volume across multiple weeks: but did their review process produce a “better book”?
  • What skills do you need to participate in (or run!) an open peer-review project such as this one?
  • How does the timing problem affect participation in a project like this one?
  • “As a result, higher education pays twice for scholarship produced by its own faculty: first, in the form of salary or sabbatical support for individual professors, and second, in fees for the right to distribute the work.”
  • Should blogs count?
  • Why doesn’t the Writing History in the Digital Age book have a comment section on the published version?
  • What do they mean by “filter then publish” and “publish then filter”?

Jack Dougherty, Kristen Nawrotzki, Charlotte D. Rochez, and Timothy Burke, “Conclusions: What We Learned from Writing History in theDigital Age,” in Writing History in the Digital Age
  • Can you think of any other project in which peer reviewers have become co-authors?
  • Does this conclusion—the result of the open peer review process—hang together effectively as an essay?
  • “But the most important lesson we learned was the power of a critical mass of contributors with their own social media connections. When we tweeted or blogged about new essay ideas on our edited volume, this information cascaded as several authors and commenters recirculated it on their Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress accounts.”
  • Were you interested in the comments made on the book in progress? Did anyone go back and look at them?
  • Would you publish an essay in progress on the internet?
  • “In this way, the volume blurred the boundaries between a conference and a book.”

Jack Dougherty, “Lessons Learned from Open Peer Review for Digital Book Publishing,” media commons: a digital scholarly network, October 29, 2013
  • What are the risks to publishers if they have an open peer review project? What are the reasons they might be inclined or disinclined to pursue such a project?
  • What are the risks to authors? Why might they be inclined or disinclined to participate in an open peer review project?
  • What difference does/should it make to authors in multi-paper projects to see the other essays as they develop?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Week 8: Wikipedia

In the spirit of my article "Teaching Wikipedia without Apologies," I devote an entire week of this seminar (and a blog assignment) to Wikipedia.

  • Let’s develop a list of things that people who use Wikipediashould understand about it.

Roy Rosenzweig, “Can History Be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past,” Journal of American History 93, no. 1 (2006): 141-46.
  • What factors limit historians’ willingness to contribute to Wikipedia?
  • Ten years down the road, which of Rosenzweig’s observations about Wikipedia are still useful and valid?
  • What does this line suggest about Wikipedia’s orientation?: “whom Wales knew from their joint participation in online mailing lists and Usenet discussion groups devoted to Ayn Rand and objectivism”
  • What do you think of the Wikipedia’s review process? Compared to traditional academic peer review, what advantages and disadvantages does it offer?
  • Is it true that encyclopedias do not break new ground intellectually?
  • What does NPOV mean? What are its implications for writing content for Wikipedia?
  • Who contributes to Wikipedia?
  • What is the right word for people who do stuff on Wikipedia? Writers, editors, contributors, Wikipedians?
  • What makes for good historical writing? Do you agree that writing is better in professional historical sources than on Wikipedia? Why?
  • What precautions should you take before assuming the credibility of any given entry in Wikipedia?
  • Should we encourage or discourage students from using Wikipedia?
  • What do you think of Rosenzweig’s criticism about good academic sources being locked behind paywalls?
  • Do you agree that Wikipedia’s Discussion pages amount to historiographic debate?
  • Do you agree that historians should contribute to Wikipedia? Would you contribute on a regular basis? How would you feel about having your “contributions” changed?

  • Given the very small scale of the assignment for this class, do you think I should have observed Wikipedia’s rules for class projects more closely?

Shawn Graham, “The Wikiblitz: A Wikipedia Editing Assignmentin a First-Year Undergraduate Class,” Writing History in the Digital Age
  • “Digital media make all history public history (whether we like it or not),[4] and we need to get our research into that positive feedback loop.”
  • ‘Understanding how the code forces a particular worldview on the user is a key portion of becoming a “digital historian.”’ How much about coding do you think you need to know? How does coding affect our experience of reading a text or site?
  • How does the necessity of “monitoring” changes you make to Wikipedia affect your inclination to be a contributor?
  • Wikipedia is not just the content of a given page but also the network structure of links that connect pages together.”
  • What is the role of “bots” in running Wikipedia?
  • Why do you think the history majors resisted participating in this class exercise by staying out sick?

Timothy Messer-Kruse, “The ‘Undue Weight’ of Truth onWikipedia,” The Chronicle of Higher Education online, February 12, 2012, 
  • Why doesn’t expertise matter on Wikipedia?
  • Why does a “majority” determine what gets included on Wikipedia?
  • What does the existence (and persistence) of “Wiki-gatekeepers” suggest about the general claim that “just anyone” can edit Wikipedia?
  • “"Wikipedia is not 'truth,' Wikipedia is 'verifiability' of reliable sources. Hence, if most secondary sources which are taken as reliable happen to repeat a flawed account or description of something, Wikipedia will echo that."”
  • Looking at the entry on "the Haymarket affair" now, it looks to me like Messer-Kruse’s changes got through.

Martha Saxton, “Wikipedia and Women’s History: A ClassroomExperience,” Writing History in the Digital Age
  • Why aren’t primary source citations “verifiable”?
  • What kind of resistance to incorporating women’s history into Wikipedia did Martha Saxton’s students encounter?

Amanda Seligman, “Teaching Wikipedia without Apologies,” Writing History in the Digital Age
  • What attitudes about encyclopedias in general, and Wikipedia in particular, have you encountered in your classes?
  • Do you use reference works in your own research?
  • Could you detect arguments in the Wikipedia entries that you looked at for this week’s discussion?
  • How did you learn about the existence of argument in secondary historical sources? At this point in your education, do you feel comfortable identifying them?
  • [Back up and discuss the process of developing the Writing History in the Digital Age project.]

Siobhan Senier, “Indigenizing Wikipedia: StudentAccountability to Native American Authors on the World’s Largest Encyclopedia,” Web Writing: Why & How for Liberal Arts Teaching & Learning 
  • What counts as “notable” according to Wikipedia standards?
  • [Discuss the differences between the Writing History in the Digital Age and the Web Writing process and formats]
  • Does Wikipedia merit the sustained and organized efforts to improve it, such as those organized by feminist scholars?
  • ‘But “reliability,” of course, is slippery: even in the academic realm, telling our students that university presses are “better” than “the Internet” isn’t teaching them critical thinking.’
  • Should professors grade students’ Wikipedia contributions? How?

Robert S. Wolff, “The Historian’s Craft, Popular Memory, andWikipedia,”Writing History in the Digital Age 
  • What does Wolff show us about Wikipedia as a site of popular memory?
  • What is Wolff’s research method?
  • “More than just an encyclopedia, Wikipedia serves as a people’s museum of knowledge, a living repository of all that matters, where the exhibits are written by ordinary folk, with nary an academic historian in sight.”

Monday, March 9, 2015

Week 7: #Twitterstorians

Discuss experience of trying to understand the AHA through Twitter
How could you use Twitter for your future historical work (broadly considered)? Will you?

Leah Wright, “Tweet Me a Story,” in Web Writing: Why & How for Liberal Arts Teaching & Learning
  • What is Wright trying to teach her journalism students to do? Which of these skills apply to historical writing?
  • Is brevity a virtue or a vice for historians?
  • Did the student Tweeters tweet similarly to or differently from the scholars in the “Embedded Backchannel” article?
  • What role does Twitter have in news reporting now?
  • Why would you want to use Storify to compile tweets?
  • How could you use Twitter and Storify to engage students in an undergraduate history class? In a museum exhibit? In a digital history project?

C. Ross, M. Terras, C. Warwick, and A. Welsh, “Enabled Backchannel: Conference Twitter Use by Digital Humanists,” Journal of Documentation, 67(2) (2011): 214-237.
  • What did Ross et al. try to investigate about scholars’ use of Twitter for conferences?
  • What did they find?
  • What methodological problems did they encounter?
  • Is Tweeting in public fora such as conferences disruptive or fragmenting?
  • How do the peculiarities of Twitter make formal analysis difficult?
  • Page 219: “Tweets were divided into seven categories: comments on presentations; sharing resources; discussions and conversations; jotting down notes; establishing an online presence; and asking organizational questions.”
  • Page 221: “the presence of the @ sign signifies that the Tweet is part of a conversation.”
  • Page 221: “This lends support to the notion of a “90:9:1” rule (Nielson, 2006) for new social media, where 90 per cent of users are lurkers, 9 per cent of users contribute from time to time and 1 per cent participate a lot and account for the majority of contributions.”
  • Why would non-attendees use a conference hashtag?
  • Page 224: ‘Twitter challenges the traditional authorial boundaries that are associated with writing and the word “text”.’

  • Frustrated that non-historian groups are using the same hashtag? Try using advanced search to limit by date around the early January 2015 time of the AHA meeting.
  • Is there a way around reading the conference backwards in time?
  • To what uses do you see Twitter users putting the hashtag?
  • If you were going to use these tweets to write an essay about the meeting, how would you go about tackling the problem of reading and managing your notes?
  • Why do I go into skimming mode when reading Twitter instead of careful reading?
  • How do historians use Storify to communicate about #aha2015?
  • Should/Would you embargo your thesis or dissertation?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Week 6

An expected highlight of this week's class is that our two student project groups will be turning in their proposals for their final projects: a grant proposal.

General questions 
  • What is Web 2.0?
  • What is “Shared Authority”?  Where do you come down on question of the role of experts and non-experts in presenting the past?
  • Why would a member of the public participate in a shared authority digital project when they could just start their own blog or put up a website?
  • What is the role of museum staff in the world of public curation of content?
  • Why is it important to this book that the editors see a continuity between participation in the 20th century physical spaces and the 21st century virtual spaces?
  • Is “Humans of New York” an example of Letting Go?

Nina Simon, “Participatory Design and the Future of Museums”
  • What is a “folksonomy”?
  • What kind of participatory techniques have you found engaging on the web?
  • Do you agree that feedback has to get used?
  • What is the relationship between participatory feedback and the “trending” feature of sites like Facebook and Twitter?
  • Do you want to go to museums where visitors create the content? (I did at this one:
  • What is the difference between the Unsuggester and spam?

Steve Zeitlin, “Where Are the Best Stories? Where Is My Story?”
  • What is the distinction between contributed stories and curated stories?
  • Is Facebook a museum?
  • If they are curating the content of, in what senses are they “letting go”?

Matthew Fisher and Bill Adair, “Online Dialogue and Cultural Practice: A Conversation”
  • What are the underlying reasons for Shared Authority?
  • Digital engagement tools: Favoriting, Tagging, Commenting, Blogging
  • Is history just “a collection of truths”? What is the role of analysis in public engagement?

Matthew MacArthur, “Get Real! The Role of Objects in the Digital Age”
  • I wonder what the role of 3-D printing might be in the curation of digital objects.
  • Do you think that the physical experience or the digital experience of museums is more important?

Kelly, Teaching History in the Digital Age, chapter 5
  • Should historians be responsible for getting digital content online?
  • What do you think of representing history with “thought experiments”? What is the goal of teaching history?
  • What is “backwards design”?
  • What do you think of Kelly’s Lying About the Past experimental course?
  • Is it OK to ask students to put false information into Wikipedia? Into the Internet?
  • Why does Kelly narrate the hoax in the present tense as if he was going to teach the course again?
  • Could Kelly have generated similar enthusiasm among his students if he had found a well-documented but obscure historical figure for them to research and document? That is, what is the role of “hoaxing” in this class?
  • What was the educational value in Kelly’s experiment?
  • What is the point of teaching students to write papers?

Kelly, Teaching History in the Digital Age, “Conclusion

  • Do you agree with Kelly’s underlying belief that young people (=students) prefer to represent their learning about history in a variety of non-written formats?