Stranger Danger: When New Ideas Hijack Your Project

a grown up two children and the words "say no to strangers"

In this case, I mean strange ideas, not actual strangers. And by strange ideas, I mean new ones. Image courtesy _chrisUK/Flickr

Project creep.  Before pursuing a DH master’s at Trinity, I hadn’t heard this succinct term for a phenomenon which endangered so many of my previous undertakings.  It disguises itself as too much ambition or too little planning, but in reality belies a sheer naiveté regarding what is feasible based on resources, time, and/or one’s own abilities.  In hindsight,[1] my internship at Marsh’s has been especially instructive in the art of becoming a human creep-seeking missile.[2]

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Crowdsourcing and the “Discourse Network 2000”


“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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Digitizing the Ancient: Marsh’s Library, Dublin

A running theme for my blog posts this semester seems to be my newbie status. This term, I and my cohort are taking the concepts we have learned during our course and converting them into action. And in attempting to take action, I am discovering how little I really know.

Sorta like if you took Jon Snow out of Westeros and asked him to set up an online banking account.  (Images from Wikimedia Commons courtesy Wons Noj, Greg Henshall)

Sorta like if you took Jon Snow out of Westeros and asked him to set up an online banking account. (Images from Wikimedia Commons courtesy Wons Noj, Greg Henshall.)

My internship at Marsh’s Library is no exception. If you have not yet visited, I strongly urge you to go.[1] Marsh’s is a beautifully preserved 18th century library and was the first public library in Ireland. It was founded by Archbishop Narcissus Marsh,[2] and was opened to the public in 1707. Entrance costs three whole euros, and entitles you to see the exhibits, sit at a table where James Joyce sat, walk where Jonathan Swift would have walked, try your hand at writing with a quill pen, and savor the magical dusty-book atmosphere. If that’s not enough, during a recent viewing, I realized the library makes an appearance in the 1996 film Michael Collins, so your three euros lets you walk the hallowed halls where Liam Neeson also tread.

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