(Sorry in advance if this is drifting away from the original topic…)
@neilcobb Neil, I think maybe my answer before was a bit brief to clearly express my thoughts. I do wholeheartedly agree with you that if things are easy for people they tend to participate more. This may involve lowering the technical threshold as well as the time needed spent on getting on board.
The experience you shared about SCAN is a great one (thanks!). It clearly shows your point, but I think I also see a couple of things that would probably need to be discussed further:
- someone has to take care of the work if not the collections themselves (in the SCAN case it was you). Of course technology could help quite a bit in this, automating a lot of steps and making it more friendly to work with. Yet the helpdesk, at one or more points of the process, never goes away. (In my view it should never go away.). I can imagine that dealing with over 200 collections must be time consuming, even if as you say it is not a lot. Do you think a system where one person or a few take care of the thing is scalable to a world catalogue? Or rather, how do you think we could scale it? Who and how should do the work you are doing at a global scale, and how do we fund that.
- We probably want collections to be as involved as they want to be. Making things easier, absolutely, but trying to avoid “personalism” at an organizational scale as much as possible. I believe when people can take action on themselves, and not depend entirely on what others do or decide, they can see their participation matters and they can feel the projects as their own. I think such sense of ownership will be important mostly when thinking of sustainability in the long-term. So long story short, in my ideal world people would be enabled (with awesome tools and toys that make their lives easier) rather than served. Does that make sense?
(but note that some of this may be coming from me being a freak and always wanting to know the details of how the back-ends work : ) I recognize not everyone may have the same interest and/or time to spend in this and might want and/or need someone else to do it).