Course: Siemens

[Course] Ray Siemens: Social Knowledge Construction and Creation in Literary Studies Environments from on Vimeo.


Collaborative notes taken by paricipants of the DH Summer School Switzerland:

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[Course] Ray Siemens(@RayS6), Social Knowledge Construction and Creation in Literary Studies Environments

Social Knowledge Construction and Creation (including Notes from Ray Siemens copied from
– academic engagement around social media
Framing questions:
1) what is knowledge?
What I’ve learnt. Can intuitive knowledge be shared?
2) What does ‘social’ mean, in a computational context?
Some of the answers :One to one, one to many, many to many communication. p2p
3) what is the first word that comes to mind when you hear the name “wikipedia”?
Some of the answers :Collaboration, Encyclopaedia, Halleluja, totalitarism, Inaccurate, underappreciated, lack of authority (speaker)
Mapping from McCarty, again
Web 2.0 practices and standards have encouraged scholars to rethink from a user perspective the design of the scholarly edition—the fundamental textual form in literary-oriented research (Vetch; Robinson). Books have always been inherently social media as Jerome McGann argues, suggesting their suitability for a form of social editing (McGann, The Textual Condition) in a digital edition able to reflect through careful design the dynamic relations inherent to textual production and reception (“From Text to Work: Digital Tools and the Emergence of the Social Text”; see also Liu). Community and collaboration are integral to scholarly knowledge creation (Fitzpatrick) and Siemens et al. integrate within the social scholarly edition collaborative electronic tools for annotation, user-derived content, folksonomy tagging, community bibliography, and text analysis.  The modelling of the scholarly edition through applied social knowledge creation tools (ASKCTs) answers the call for polyphonic interpretation of multiple readers within an edition (see Smith), wherein the editor become a facilitator of knowledge creation rather than a didactic authority . . . .
– increased data, accelerated communication, better ways of asking question
+ workflow speeding (basic and advanced)
Converging to public investigation, creation of tools which may change the questions we ask.
Goals of course: seek understanding of trends (past -> present -> future), expand the community to build expertise. Collaboration as best approach. (working with others to increase understanding)
Learning through doing/making.
How We Approach Knowledge Construction, Intellectually
– Knowledge has always been messy !
– How knowledge is conveyed and how authority is conveyed in traditional academic circles.
– Knowledge production is age-old; what’s changing is our way of interacting in this community. Very different in different areas, no clear sense of what a book is, knowledge is.
– Print culture has never been something monolithic and singular
– Knowledge seems to be build up over time by means such as conversation manuscript circulation, example but nothing is defined: multiplicity
– Remember internet has been messy ! Some people have tried to make it authoritarive, the same message from one to many. Didn’t work. Became even more messy with google docs…(enfin il parle des google doc modifiables, hein)
– Telephone game (en français, called “téléphone arabe”, Corresponds +/- how social media works.
Canadian telephone for @RayS6 : what word shall we use?
–> demonstrates the perils and wonders of transmission (the game of Telephone, that is)
Humanists have always engaged this sort of thing : (internet…)
– embracing (cp. Haraway; Aarseth),
– studying (Liu),
– problematising (effects of social media on scholarly practice: Mrva-Montoya; challenging power of searchmachines and how the unify knowledge: Introna and Nissenbaum; Berry),
– acting ?
In web 2.0, we have to understand our role is changing. [==> (Who is our/us ? = scholars, I guess)]
Quality control is important.
Humanistic engagement has become increasingly active. In N-america: humanities are under attack as allegedly not contributing to society. including economically (!)
— how is this different outside NA (apparently not)
– reintegration with public social sphere is integral towards creating a community-relevant aspect of humanities
– Digital Humanities have evolved into a “meta-discipline”  but hinders stake-holders.
we  should spend more time to modelling to share these models, less writing  more making. Contribute to society through techno-culture.
  • Is this a sensible approach?
  • Knowledge structures: coding things, onthologies, databases. Is it a threat (partly), can it yield some value? Afk vs online: new ways of owning, control, dissemination.
  • What is missing? (one of the problems seems the lack of authority? -> shift to facilitating transfer of knowledge)
  • How might we best emend (inevitable) elisions?
What We are Doing Now (Tools, Projects)
Content: User-derived content is another imperative for social knowledge creation in electronic environments.
i.e. – the changing of Wikipedia pages and how this reflects a personal engagement with subject matter: who is the expert?
– A data portal platform, CKAN fosters user-generated content with its guided publishing process, metadata customization, versioning, and analytics, while allowing users to engage with this data through searching and tagging data sets, social networking, building extensions, and API access.
– Omeka is a comprehensive open source content management system (CMS) for displaying online digital collections of scholarly editions and cultural heritage artifacts.
– PyBossa is a micro-tasking platform that utilizes crowdsourcing in order to carry out small, user-derived tasks and contributions.
– Using Mozillas Open Badges, an alternative credential-granting system, Badge Stack is a WordPress plugin that facilitates the creation of rewards- or achievements-based environments, with earned badges presentable across the web.
Annotation: The affordance of collaborative tools disperses traditional annotative authority.
– The extendible AnnotateIt/Annotator allows users to make comments on texts and supports tags, mark-down content, and individual permissions per-annotation. 
– Co-ment is a text environment designed for commenting and annotation that integrates with multiple content management systems through an API. is a collaborative plug-in designed bring the practice of marginalia making to the WordPress environment. 
– An extensible web application, Domeo uses the Annotation Ontology (AO) RDF framework in permitting fully automated, semi-automated, and manual annotation on HTML or XML documents, as well as both personal and community annotation with access authorization and control. 
– Marginalia, which is capable of integrating with learning management systems like Moodle, includes forum discussion functionality while serving as a straight-forward tool for personal and collaborative annotation. 
– TEXTUS is a collaborative annotation platform for text collections which supports bibliography creation and citation. 
Marking, Tagging, Bibliography: Community bibliography applications, which often incorporate folksonomy tagging, facilitate the collaborative creation, organization, citation, and publication of bibliographies.
– Bibliography Module for the Drupal CMS, also called Drupal Scholar (, enables users to manage, present, and cite scholarly publications in various citation styles.
– BibServer ( is open source software for publishing and sharing large bibliographic collections on the web through a RESTful API and JSON format, providing also a range of data visualization options.
– Supporting multiple administrators and users, Document Database is a PHP-based document management system that uses the BibTeX format in its support for bibliographical data.
– WIKINDX ( is described as a “Virtual Research Environment” and enables collaborative text and bibliographic data management, creation, and use.
– Zotero ( is an open source reference management system that integrates with word processors and other writing environments. Users can assign tags, organize research material into collections and sub collections, and create topical collaborative research groups for sharing and discussion of libraries and notes.
– Endnote — with new features, has more social elements (Siemens mentions lawsuit between Zotero and Endnote)
Analysis: A growing number of online tools create new opportunities for collaborating during the text analysis process.
– CATMA ( is a web-based text analysis and literary research application that allows scholars to exchange analytical results online. The application boasts a number of features: users can apply analytical categories and tags; search the text using Query Builder; set predefined statistical and non-statistical analytical functions; visualize text attributes and findings; and share documents, tagsets, and markup.
– Highbrow ( visualizes the density of scholarly annotations and references within individual texts, videos, and audio recordings; it is also able to show groups of analyzed items together in a collection to facilitate pattern discovery by the researcher.
– TAPoR 2.0 (Text Analysis Portal for Research) ( presents a large collection of textual analysis tools for scholars and researchers.
– Voyant ( is an online text analysis environment (with API support) that allows users to submit texts in a variety of formats to show word frequency, usage, and their placement throughout documents.
– WordHoard ( is a Java application for tagging and annotating large texts or transcribed speech, that offers analysis by word frequency, lemmatization, text comparison, and custom queries.
What tools or type of tools are missing?
Some Current Issues to Consider : ??
–  Github . (<– trying not to think of British slang here) Gimp help?  What did he just say??  Gidhelp? –> (oh) 🙂
(It’s like using google docs or framapad, but with a much much better “history” structure)
Who constrains knowledge and how?
– By employing digital humanist methods, are we excluding those who are less technologically connected?
– Gamification
– Scholarly engageement : consider the benefits/pitfalls of gamification : ??
– Open journal projects :
Case Study, Narrative
Social Edition of the Devonshire Manuscript (BL Add MS 174692)
Retooling of our projects after classic/academic way of doing things because people got interested in
“@RayS6 describes the Devonshire manuscript and its circulation. #EarlyModern #SocialMedia reminds me of …”
Principles of this kind of social edition :
– Process oriented rather than focused on the finished object
– Shares values with Web 2.0: user-driven, perpetual beta, networked.
– Publishing isn’t the end of the writing process
– Systemising Shared Authority (chart…)
Our plan was initially more classical academic work, but then…
– To build a peer review in our social editing system, became much more social than thought.
– people were happy to conribute
– Some contents was improved ! (not only typos, but also missing/unattainable content such as data on metioned persons and places. but also counter-vandalizing)
– People were credited and we knew where they were coming from. They were event more engaged then the research scientist in the project !
 Models are content for data
 key word: interactions, sharing, contributing, collective work
 Knowledge production has always been messy!!
 not a lot of tools convergency
 NB=>systematising shared authority: big deal!