Last year my colleague Sheila Brennan and I spent some time trying to make sense of the lessons we’d learned from several years of work on the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank–a project that Sheila did the vast majority of the heavy lifting on here at CHNM. The essay we wrote about our experiences is now online on CHNM’s Essays on History and New Media page.
From my perspective, the most valuable part of the essay is in the “lessons learned” section where we discuss some of the reasons why we think the project succeeded while simultaneously failing to live up to our (admittedly high) expectations. We learned a tremendous amount about how the interface influences both the number of contributions and the nature of those contributions, about building relationships with contributors, about driving traffic to the site, about auto-collecting content from various sites (blogs, Flickr.com, etc.), about the importance of partnerships with individuals and organizations with a vested interest in the subject of the project, and about how to more accurately forecast staffing needs for digital collecting projects.
I hope you will take a few minutes, read this relatively brief essay, and let us know what you think.