Crowdsourcing and the “Discourse Network 2000”

Epigraph[1]

“Where the author was once presumed to be the originating transmitter of a discourse next sent for management to the editor, publisher, and so on through all the other positions in the discursive circuit, now the author is in a mediating position as just one among all those other managers looking upstream to previous originating transmitters—database or XML schema designers, software designers, and even clerical information works (who input data into the database or XML source document).” (Liu 81)

A (very brief) history of the term “crowdsourcing”

In his 2004 article in Critical Inquiry titled “Transcendental Data: Toward a Cultural History and Aesthetics of the New Encoded Discourse,” Alan Liu describes today’s digital information culture through the concept of “discourse network 2000,” a way of organizing information production and dissemination which has the potential to disempower readers and writers by prescripting their roles within an overly-articulated management-focused framework. Fast-forward one year and Wired writer Jeff Howe coins the term “crowdsourcing” to refer to:

the act of a company or institution taking a function once performed by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined (and generally large) network of people in the form of an open call.[2]

Mauerspechte at the Berlin Wall

I guess it isn’t crowdsourcing if the crowd takes it upon themselves. (Image via Jochims/Wikimedia Commons)

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STEM-born, humanities-approved

A flower with the words "Not THAT kind of STEM"

S(cience) T(echnology) E(ngineering) and M(athematics), my friends. (Image courtesy Audrey, Wikimedia Commons)

DH and Project Management

Typically, when I explain to friends and family exactly what “digital humanities” means, I rely on examples of what it produces: digital editions of books, thematic research collections, virtual museums, etc. However, equally important to DH projects are the adoption and adaptation of STEM-born research methods. Many of the most successful DH projects are of a scale which necessitates collaboration amongst fields and universities.[1] The result? “Corporate” concepts such as project management are filtering into university research. And as humanists begin to explore these production frameworks, they incorporate pre-existing concepts from within their disciplines, and adapt the methods to emerging concerns in their fields. My interest in project management in particular[2] led me to do some preliminary research about the conversations DHers are having regarding its implementation. This post will focus on three main questions being asked by humanists who are restructuring their roles as researchers within a project management framework.[3] Continue reading