Collaborative knowledge production

Wikipedia is probably the most known format of collaborative knowledge production today. However, Ann Blair in Too Much to Know has made clear that such collaborations can be traced as far back as Antiquity.

With the introduction of new media (radio and later television) at the beginning of the 20th century, the efficiency of the codex book was questioned as a means to transfer knowledge. In this lecture, I will discuss the views of the knowledge organization pioneer Paul Otlet (1868–1944) on the future of the book as a collective scientific endeavor. Apart from Otlet’s ideas for new encyclopedia formats, for which he used the collective name Encyclopedia Universal Mundaneum, I will discuss his attempts to introduce different media in collaborative knowledge production. I will try to demonstrate that the problems that he encountered in organizing the access, distribution and control of collective knowledge production, and to create a feasible business model around it, are still apparent today.

To this end, I will present the outcomes of a project with the title Dynamic Drawings in Enhanced Publications in which historians of science, digital archivists, a game developer, and Brill publishers have worked together to develop dynamic animations of 17th century descriptions of machines and complex scientific processes. The project has also explored the responsibilities of archiving collaboratively produced knowledge for re-use, and considered the development of new business models for enriched publications in the future.

CHARLES VAN DEN HEUVELPast and Future Enriched Publications: Access, Distribution and Preservation of Collaborative Knowledge Production was presented by Charles van den Heuvel on May 6th, 2014. A video file of his talk is available here.

Prof. van den Heuvel is Head of the Research Group in History of Science and Scholarship at the Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, and holds the chair in Digital Methods and Historical Disciplines (in particular the History of Scholarship and Information Sciences) at the University of Amsterdam.

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