Friday, 10:30

Friday, 2006-10-27, 10:30
Daniel O’Donnell, “We are Family: The Economics of Best Practice”

Central question: developing best practices at the community level for research and teaching. O’Donnell suggested that we’re moving from a period of incunabula to where we have robust conventions and can work on things instead of constantly devising solutions for things that pop up. What’s difficult is exchanging the results of different endeavors.

An example of exchange is CSS Zen Garden, which lets specialists participate in a community where they focus on their disciplinary overlap (css) rather than the extra-disciplinary features of a given project a designer is working on.

What doesn’t work is volunteerism for its own sake. Not much is put up by people who aren’t running a “collaborative” site. For the TEI SIGs and wiki (and possibly for DM and its wiki), what’s the barrier? Basically, contribution isn’t worthwhile because it takes time and effort from one’s own projects. Most contributions are from people whose work is already close to what’s produced in the community. Wikipedia is an exception….

We need a better way to promote self-interest, namely meta-scholarship published in peer review so that its author(s) can have credit. Generally, people don’t talk about details in meta-scholarship; it’s a writeup of what’s being done or has been done.

Are we family? In-laws, maybe; we hope people succeed, but not enough to take time off our own focus and help.

Bauman: Most of this applies to the technologist as well as the scholar.

someone: Wikipedia works because it’s anonymous, so no one can receive credit for “owned” ideas. O’Donnell: part of the success is also that it’s largely run by amateurs for whom Wikipedia is an escape.

Flanders: One hard thing is figuring out the venue and manner of dissemination. O’Donnell: for Wikipedia one doesn’t mind losing control over intellectual property. For the TEI wiki, one retains it but still doesn’t have credit relative to one’s CV. Perhaps conference papers are where things happen, more so than journal articles, because one finds out what people are doing without the pressure for them to have finished those things already.

someone: there is a Nietzsche Portal, but the commenting feature doesn’t work [I missed part of that]. Economic aspect is key (payment in kind = CV line).

Rahtz: less competition occurs and more is done when no one cares who gets credit–but it’s somewhat prestige-driven and prestige doesn’t operate without some credit / name-attribution; choosing one’s battles matters.

someone: preprint archives in the sciences are about the underlying data, too, not just the writeup. O’Donnell: there’s a collab. project involving OE texts, with a shared framework for IDs but allowance for each contributor to retain IP.