Captain Primate (a.k.a. Ethan Watrall), ringleader of the 2013 CHI Fieldschool emphasized on the first day of the fieldschool that as participants we would be enculturated into the CHI domain through modeling and experimentation with standards and practices of the sector. Theoretical knowledge and practical application are important components of any discipline. In transdisciplinary arenas like digital heritage informatics and curation, collaborative processes require soft skills, resources, and networking between institutions and teams of individuals of differing cultures, personalities, styles of communication, and levels of expertise.
What does collaboration entail? The U.S. Forest Service2 identified the following elements as important aspects to working jointly on a project:
- Leverage differences in strength, knowledge, and power on behalf of the collective to build the capacity to achieve objectives.
- Support equal participation, even when there are differences in power, authority, and responsibility.
- Focus on finding common ground and a willingness to live with and learn from decisions.
The Hack Library School website recently featured an interesting post by Paul Lai entitled Praxis and the Perennial Conflict Between Theory and Practice in Library Education. In this post, Lai touches on the significance of collaboration as a basis of library information science practice. I believe the same standards apply, by extension, to cultural heritage and memory institutions.
1Dale, S. (2012). Collaborative Behavior. KIN Summer Workshop: Knowledge and Innovation Network. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/stephendale/collaborative-behaviours
2 U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2013). Partnership Resource Center- The Art of Collaboration. Retrieved from http://www.fs.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsinternet/!ut/p/c4/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0os3gjAwhwtDDw9_AI8zPwhQoY6BdkOyoCAPkATlA!/?ss=119979&navtype=BROWSEBYSUBJECT&cid=null&navid=121100000000000&pnavid=121000000000000&position=BROWSEBYSUBJECT&ttype=main&pname=Partnership%20Resource%20Center-%20The%20Art%20of%20Collaboration