* Dr Charlene Jennett from the UCL Interaction Centre discussing her research exploring the motivations of citizens from around the world that collaborate together via websites to do scientific research. Talked particularly about http://citizencyberlab.eu/ and gave some nice examples of Citizen Science and Participatory Digital Humanities projects and the importance of building communities including both ‘citizens’ and ‘scientists’. I was particularly interested to take a look at the Transcribe Bentham and Old Weather projects. One of the things I find particularly interesting here is that these seem to be exactly the kind of projects Wiki Source and (to a lesser extent in some ways) Wiki Data were created for (I say to a lesser extent because while the data could go into Wiki Data it’s not clear to me Wiki Source would accept the original docs). Of course, the great thing about those projects is they’re a community effort and include hyperlinking and translations of the originals!
* Dr Sarah Faisal from the UCL Interaction Centre discussed her research with her company Anamil Tech, where she has developed a new multilingual educational app for children aged 2 to 6 years old to encourage language learning and cultural awareness from an early age. Aside from thinking “ooo Arabic speaker, I wonder if she edits Wikipedia” I think the question of early age language learning, and cultural awareness is very interesting, and the question posed “how do we increase exposure to diversity without stereotyping” is an incredibly important one. It also reminded me that I should put my paper on (a sociocultural perspective on) moral development online. Sarah presented a nice app which facilitates storytelling, on the (very plausible) premise that the stories children create are their lived experience. This also reminded me of some of the work Rupert Wegerif has done on interactive technologies and their scope to exposure pupils to diverse perspectives (I think some links in this post).
Prof Muki Haklay from the UCL Extreme Citizen Science research group discussed his research designing a mobile app for hunter-gatherers in the Congo, enabling environmental agencies and local people to work together (at least, that’s what the blurb says). Muki actually discussed some really interesting work around “mapping for change” which works to create participatory maps with communities. Again, interestingly there appears to be no relationship between this work and the OpenStreetMap project (to create freely available, community curated maps).
One of the things that interests me in this context (as I’ve talked about before) is the nature of “content holes” on the web. This is both with respect to actually missing information, information that is hard to find because of the way the web is organised (and searched), and information that is – for example – only accessible if accessed in English rather than any other language.
Given my interest in Open education, and the Wikimedia projects, this is of particular interest to me. One of the virtues of Wikipedia and its sister projects should be that they are not only making knowledge available but that they are fully participatory, that their very essence requires a diversity of contribution. That’s not to say they don’t encounter problems (they sure do!) but they’re an interesting case for analysis. So, while I love all these great projects…I also hope we can encourage more academics to invest in a) technology around Wikimedia projects (e.g. to support maps for change, or specific transcription projects), and b) in the projects themselves :-).
Which is a good point to mention Wikipedia Takes UCL which runs 17-21st of Feb and will involve lots of events on how to engage in Wikimedia (and particularly Wikipedia) projects.