Democratising history – how DSpace encourages citizens to work jointly and sustainably on their neighbourhood histories
1. History workshops in Hamburg (Germany), 2. The Citizen as collaborator and user (presenting the workfow of stadtteilgeschichten.net), 3. The Citizen as collaborator (with some remarks on quality assurance), 4. The Citizen as receptive user (with some remarks on visibility and the World Wide Web), 5. The Citizen as active user Since it went online in January 2007, the Digital Archive for Neighbourhood Histories of Hamburg stadtteilgeschichten.net offers to its users a totally new approach to the history of everyday life in this city in the Northern part of Germany. Images, documents, and objects collected by generations of Hamburgian citizens can now be viewed, copied and used for one’s own non-commercial digital projects within the reach of a mouseclick. But there are still some more ambitious aims to this project: we would like to provide forward-looking information technologies as represented by DSpace in order to encourage citizens to work jointly and sustainably on their neighbourhood histories. Democratising History for us means activating and networking citizens so they will change from external users to internal collaborators of the project. Even today the users of stadtteilgeschichten.net get the possibility to collaborate by adding their own comment to the description of a historic document and by sharing it with other users. Thus citizens can activly contribute to the growth of the digital archive and can write the histories of their neighbourhoods – which forms part of their own history. In the near future stadtteilgeschichten.net will offer to the citizens of Hamburg even more qualifed forms of collaboration in the feld of metadata acquisition while revealing the value of their personal historic knowledge. Discussion boards will foster the exchange between users and convey the feeling of a community. Virtual galleries will offer new opportunities to present the acquisitions of one’s individual history to a wider public and to gain appreciation thereby. In cooperation with educational institutions of all levels stadtteilgeschichten.net will use the topic of neighbourhood history in order to teach up-to-date media and information competences. Thus stadtteilgeschichten.net will establish DSpace as a secure digital repository in the area of neighbourhood history as well as a plattform for communication and participation despite any social differences in sex, age, or culture.