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what tools and models do we have for collaboration in the humanities?
November 26, 2012 7:11 AM   Subscribe

what tools and platforms exist right now which humanists can use to do collaborative research? what models exist of successful humanities collaboration?

I'm curious to hear, from librarians or other academics or anyone with experience working on collaborative research projects, what specific tools you've used for doing so and what's worked (or hasn't!) for you. I know there's much more collaboration in the sciences and I'm open to hearing about this too. I'm interested in any part of the collaborative process, from gathering research all the way to joint writing. Here are some very basic ones I can think of off the top of my head:
- Google documents for joint writing and notes
- Participad, a wordpress plugin allowing real-time editing and editorial conflict resolution
- Emailed word documents & track changes; Dropbox or similar for file-sharing
- Wikis to gather research e.g. PBWiki, MediaWiki
- Group blogging
- CUNY's very new Commons in a Box - I've no first-hand experience of this, but it looks promising, and I'd be interested to find more of this sort of thing.

I'd also be interested in hearing about existing (successful) examples of research collaboration on digital platforms and particularly co-authorship: any discipline, although the more applicable to the humanities, the better. Some I can think of:
- 22 authors writing a book together
- an open-access collaboratively-written book on the digital humanities [pdf] (scroll to to the end for "production notes")
- Timothy Gowers' experiment into "massively collaborative mathematics"
- in the more "conventional" category, the Modern Girl Around the World research group at University of Washington; this was not on any sustained digital platform but was fairly uniquely centered around a cross-disciplinary transnational research agenda and produced a co-written book and articles.

Thanks in advance!
posted by idlethink to Education (3 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Came to this thread to suggest Commons In a Box and participad.

You might also look into the group features of Zotero & Mendeley -- they are mostly used for managing and sharing bibliographies, but they can do so much more.
posted by activitystory at 7:32 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have had success using Zotero in the past to share references and collect PDFs in a group. Another tool not to be overlooked is Google+ for its video conferencing and document sharing capabilities. Makes a great accompaniment to Google Docs. Tinychat is another conferencing tool I use a lot.

But to be honest I've witnessed more failures that successes. Attempted to have a Posterous site running for my department with very limited uptake. It's a shame, because the platform can be used to blog, upload PDFs and it integrates with twitter and facebook very well. The less 'public' a platform feels, the better people are at working creatively with it, I have found.

Facebook has been growing in malleability. Groups and Pages have actually started popping up that have a useful function, especially now that file sharing is possible. I don't trust Facebook when it comes to features though, they tend to fundamentally change how things work without consulation, thus relegating once useful spaces to the internet asylum.

I hold out hope for a really old open source platform (which used to be) called Sweetcron. It came along just before Tumblr and had a lot of similar aspirations, but was then promptly left to gather dust by its original lone coder. A team is currently reinjecting the platform into life as Lifepress. Its openness could lead to some really creative applications, where sharing and commenting on a lot of material is useful. I've used Sweetcron/Lifepress for years to organise things I see/read/post/photograph/like/tweet/watch/etc. into some semblance of a usable archive. Only usable for me, so far, but I hold out hope that a collaborative element might spring up later.
posted by 0bvious at 8:33 AM on November 26, 2012

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posted by 0bvious at 3:44 PM on November 26, 2012

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