Collective response: feedback from the community review period

The community review period for the Collective Wisdom project has now ended. From May 12 to August 9 (well, technically we accepted some comments on the 10th), reviewers and authors left 153 comments / threads on the book draft.

Chapters with the most comments included 2: What is crowdsourcing in cultural heritage? (33 comments); 5: Designing cultural heritage crowdsourcing projects (27 comments); and 3: Why work with crowdsourcing in cultural heritage? (26 comments). The preponderance of comments in these three chapters may well be because of the attempts in these spaces to add structure to a field for which definitions are often based in personal experience and contextualized by project goals and needs, and to a design practice which has been largely ad-hoc.

Some common themes in reviewer feedback included:

  • Suggesting citations we missed, including articles and projects, to further illustrate a point or offer a contrary position
  • Noting where ideas felt unfinished or would benefit from more detail/discussion
  • Pushing back against or disagreeing with pieces of the narrative
  • Edits for broadening inclusivity/access, such as suggesting additional perspectives that could be incorporated within the text as well as reminding us how we should write for a broad audience, e.g. asking us if we can include links to preprints for paywalled articles, for readers without institutional access
  • Copyediting feedback, including grammar suggestions or pointing out typographical errors, as well as requests for clarification

Even though the feedback was varied, and came from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds and experiences within the field, a clear theme is present: ensuring that this volume is inclusive of, and accessible to, a range of audiences, by including many perspectives and approaches to cultural heritage crowdsourcing in all its incarnations.

We learned that, even though we made an effort to be intentional and inclusive with our vocabulary, there were moments when our efforts didn't translate as broadly as we'd hoped. Feedback suggesting phrasing like 'digital collections' rather than 'digitized collections' broadened the scope of our writing to be inclusive of born-digital documents.

Some reviewers noted their appreciation for specific topics or sentences within chapters. Others appreciated our transparency around the Book Sprint process itself, noting specifically how having detailed information around what platforms and tools we used to generate the book would be useful in their own work.

Other comments highlighted the bias of our authorial perspectives. Reviewers noted the absence of voices outside the global North/West; we acknowledge that this was a predetermined outcome given the limitations of the original grant that funded this research (in its requirement that participants be based in the US and UK only). We are hopeful that discussions during our closing workshop—which has no such limitations regarding attendance—will be able to further address this valid critique. Additionally, some discussions in the book draft of inclusivity and opportunities for institutions to engage marginalized communities through crowdsourcing were flagged by reviewers as being insufficient and perhaps even tokenistic.

A full list of reviewers can be found below. We are grateful to the members of our wider community who took part in the process. This book will ultimately be stronger because of this feedback. By pointing out the shortcomings of this draft and affirming what we did well, our reviewers have helped to shape our editing process. The PubPub draft of the book (with comments) will remain accessible in perpetuity for those who want to use the book as a resource while we move forward with our editorial process.

As a reminder, our follow-up workshop will take place from 20-22 October 2021. More information is available in our Save the Date blog post.

Collective Wisdom community reviewers:

Albin Larsson
Alexandra Eveleigh
Ann Borda
Caitlin Haynes
Chris Lintott
Christina Crowder
Ditch Townsend
Jez Nicholson
Jim Hayes
Johan Oomen
Lauren Algee
Rachael Mady
Simon Worthington
Siobhan Leachman
Vahur Puik
Victoria Morris
Victoria Passau

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