A blog is a great way to achieve a concatenation
of information. Each time you want to add something, it accrues to
the beginning of your collection of information. While a blog format
can eventually lead to a repository of information, to me it seems very
much at odds with what a finding aid should be.
> I'm not wild about a wiki approach to finding
aids > for some of the same reasons already mentioned,
> but even more because of the sociology of wiki
Are you talking about the characteristics
of Wikipedia, or of the very many different kinds of wikis you have observed?
What you describe appears to be Wikipedia. Please know that
Wikipedia is very much unlike dozens of the wikis I've observed that are
geared towards specific subjects (especially the sciences), organizations'
internal wikis, or specific functions. It's unfortunate that so many
people assume that all wikis are like Wikipedia -- most are not at all
like Wikipedia, but are open to a limited number of individuals who must
register and whose editorial additions are monitored or at least until
a point where the integrity of their contributions are no longer suspect.
In essence, a wiki is no different from
a webpage - it's just that you can amend it quicker without depending on
the bureacracy of whoever is responsible for the webpage. When you
have even two people who might be able to add knowledge to (and therefore,
increase the value of ) your webpage, I feel that is a good thing.
Bob Kosovsky, Ph.D., Curator, Rare Books
Music Division -- The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
*** blog: http://www.nypl.org/blog/bob-kosovsky ***
Please respond to Encoded Archival
At UMass, we've been using a blog -- a catablog --
as one means of providing
access to our general manuscript collections, with links out to EAD files
and other resources (http://www.library.umass.edu/spcoll/umarmot/). Users
can supply comments and add information to descriptions or pages, all
moderated. Thus far, the comments we've received have been restricted to
spam, more spam, reference questions, spam, and pats on the back. This
evolve as the site evolves -- it has been up for only a brief time and
still "in development" -- but perhaps because of the nature of
collections, the comments have not been uniformly valuable.
Personally, I'm not wild about a wiki approach to finding aids for some
the same reasons already mentioned, but even more because of the sociology
of wiki writing. However "accurate" a wiki article may
be, the result too
often tends to be a watered down, pale imitation, stripped of meaningful
analysis and acceptable to a large number only because it avoids any real
issues in interpretation or historical context. When I want to know
or death date it may be fine, but when I'm wearing my historian hat, I'm
usually far more interested in the interpretative layers than the so-called
factual layers (which, as has already been pointed out, have their own
problems). Perhaps in some contexts a wiki-aid might work well, but
dinosaurs like myself go to some lengths -- not always successfully --
craft an image of who we are and what we do, and for me, the wiki approach
doesn't quite get us to the end of the Cretaceous.
Sorry for the metaphor.
Robert S. Cox
Head, Special Collections
& University Archives
Adj. Prof. of History
W.E.B. Du Bois Library, 154 Hicks Way
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Amherst, MA 01003-9275