At its core, the DHShare project, created by Jennifer Sano-Franchini (PhD Candidate, WRAC) is a website of thematically-organized link sources pertaining to contemporary cultural issues to serve as a resource for college-level writing students and instructors. This project draws on the layouts of existing websites like Wikipedia and delicious in that its content is driven primarily by user-contribution of links to news articles, scholarly articles, blogs, and other online media, which are arranged by individual pages pertaining to specific topics, to which users can follow, or subscribe. Unlike Wikipedia, however, the site does not include a narrative accompanying the citations; the primary resource that this website provides are the links to sources aggregated around specific issues, encouraging students and other users to formulate their own narratives from the media sources provided. In this way, individual pages put links to articles, blogs, and other kinds of pieces of a larger conversation into dialogue with one another. The content focus of the project is intellectual property – which includes history of intellectual property, copyright/copyleft, remix, read-write culture, plagiarism, fair use, torrent communities, piracy, authorship/ownership, design imitation in fashion, and intellectual property across cultures.
The rationales for this project are: 1) that huge changes in information accessibility warrant changes in the way we teach students to do research; and 2) that shifts in the broader Academy about the way we understand knowledge-production should come with some reconsiderations about what we teach students about knowledge-production. Many have written about the ways digital technology and the internet impact the way students think and process information on
fundamental levels, and a major point of discussion in education is how students today “pay attention” differently from students of the past. Writing instructors have seen some of the consequences of this shift, as many students seem to be finding it more difficult to deal with the legwork of sifting through information in the digital age.
Secondly, this project engages ongoing debates in the academy with regards to changing models of knowledge production that have come about with widespread access to the internet and other technological developments. “Old models” of knowledge production, generally consisting of single-authors doing research individually, using alphabetic text in print journals or books with slow turnover, contrast markedly from more recent developments in academia including online, open-access journals, un-conferences, and collaborative research, which are characterized by use of a range of digital media, widespread collaboration, greater access, and rapid circulation of knowledge. This shift in the broader Academy should come with some reconsiderations about the way we teach students to do research.
Therefore, while the primary goal of the project is to serve as a resource to facilitate student research as well as writing instruction in college-level composition courses, the larger purpose of the project is to facilitate more collaborative understandings of writing, research, and knowledge-making. This project does this through an interface that enables user-contributed links and user participation across institutional and geographical boundaries, accompanied by a space for users to contribute discussion questions along with separate discussion boards for instructors and students where instructors can share lesson plans and other teaching ideas and students can discuss pertinent issues across institutions. Through this project, users are encouraged to freely draw from others’ work (while, of course, citing their sources), work together to build bodies of knowledge, and add to larger ongoing conversations by discussing debatable issues pertinent to those bodies of knowledge.