Thursday, June 20, 2013

Who publicizes negative results?

Some do.  I try to learn from others' mistakes so I can make original ones.  A year after the KnowWiki came into being it was time to re-evaluate things.

Some things were very successful.  Some things were not.

Good: Scanning homogeneous collections of stuff, running OCR and crowd editing transcripts turned out very well.  This was the one area where a true living collection came to be.

Bad: Collections of varied materials caused nightmares in creating metadata and in posting things online.

Changes in the environment: dSpace became a more viable solution with upgrades and custom programming; something that had not been available last year.

Feature vs. Bug: Wikis are very easy to edit and it's possible to create a system of categorization.  This means you can do nothing or you can do too much.  A few curators ran into the problem of too many options, or as the Fifth Wave cartoon called it decades ago: Toxic Option Syndrome.

Discussions about these things (and other observations) made me rethink what the questions are really good for.  Saying that they've helped me solved problems is good; others telling me the same is good, but I can't point to this and say "this is how you solve problems".

On the whole, the questions in their various contexts can be viewed as structured Active Listening.  The BRQ is a conversation starter (or stopper, sadly).

The Operational Questions are good for making you think about how something will work.  They don't help you determine how much work you're going to end up doing.  They are mostly good for risk management if used well.

The Directional Questions still tend to overwhelm people and are best answered in a backwards way: get someone else to do it for you.  Chances are you've already discussed your problem with others.  If you get someone to answer with what they'd think you'd say, you end up with a better picture than if you sat and stared at the screen for a few hours.

I'll post more on my rethinking later.