At the Seventh Annual William G. McGowan Forum on Communications on November 4, the National Archives previewed their Citizen Archivist Dashboard, a single place where users can actively participate in the work of the institution (the Archivist of the United States debuted it earlier in his blog). Pamela Wright, Chief Digital Access Strategist at the National Archives, stated that this would be a way to develop deeper levels of engagement with its users beyond the basic performance measures of “likes” and “followers”. Scheduled to launch in December, it will use crowd-sourcing strategies to improve access and understanding of its enormous collections by allowing visitors to:
- tag or apply subject headings to individual materials, which will improve search results
- transcribe documents, which will be organized by beginner, intermediate, and advance levels
- contribute articles or essays about specific documents or record groups
- upload photos of National Archive records
- participate in contests, such as History Happens Here
David Weinberger, senior researcher at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society, was very impressed with this project and felt that crowd sourcing not only was the best way to improve access to such a huge collection, but it was fundamentally democratic because the materials in the National Archives belong to the public.
The National Archives began exploring uses of social media only a couple years ago, and boy, have they caught up. I’ll provide a summary of their current efforts in an upcoming post and a video of the forum will be shared on the National Archives’ YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/usnationalarchives) in about a week or so.