Making & Knowing Prototype

Manuscript Field Notebook

Following our encounter on 11/14/204 we understand the challenges facing Making and Knowing project to be as follows:

  1. Manuscript and parallel translation files exist in a closed and proprietary ecosystem that lacks proper access controls, collaboration tools, and versioning.
  2. Student field notes and recipes are difficult to organize and present in a closed ecosystem that might not scale as the project grows.
  3. Images, videos, and other supplementary materials are archived in yet a third closed ecosystem, which does not answer to scholarly standards of sharing and preservation.

In thinking of creative ways to address these concerns we are guided by the following several principles:

  • Source files (manuscript transcriptions and field notes) must be kept in plain text to enable preservation and to facilitate later development of online and print resources (web sites and critical editions).
  • The platform of choice must be open, easy to use, and accessible programmatically.
  • Source files must be placed under version control when possible to facilitate back-up, the formation of drafts, branches, and to prevent editorial conflicts.

To these ends we propose:

a. To use git / GitHub for all textual material.
b. To place all visual material into Wikimedia Commons under the CC BY license.
c. To train project moderators in the usage of these tools.

In comparison to the existing platforms, our approach has the significant advantage of long-term sustainability: scalability, unified backup and versioning workflows, resilience to bit decay and editorial conflict, and powerful collaboration tools. Most importantly, it is easy to imagine building textual interfaces, critical editions, and online resources to make this rapidly growing archive more accessible to the public.

To test the viability of our ideas we created a GitHub repository containing several manuscript pages and field notes along with mock-ups for manuscript and field notebook pages.