While reading “Toward Modeling the Social Edition: An Approach to Understanding the Electronic Scholarly Edition in the Context of New and Emerging Social Media” I was primarily interested in how social editions facilitate a new kind of reading and change the way that we engage with a text. As Siemens et. al. explain, there are multiple factors that contribute to the “social” nature of this kind of edition such as “collaborative annotation,” “user derived content,” “folksonomy tagging,” “community bibliography,” and “shared text analysis” (451). These tools, which allow for authors and readers to interact with one another, transform a solitary writing, editing, or reading experience into a collective effort.
According to Siemens et. al., a social edition not only enables discussion between academics but between users with varying levels of knowledge: “there is a growing movement in humanities knowledge building communities to expand the scope of community membership beyond academics, and into the interested and engaged general public, to those practicing what has come to be termed citizen scholarship” (450). As the article outlines, “citizen scholarship” depends on a balance between the input of the public as well as well as “the tools already in place” (450). In a sense, a social edition democratizes the reading and writing processes; however, the tools used in a social edition can confine the user in his or her research. On one hand these tools are beneficial in terms of efficiency and precision. They guide the academic or non-academic user. Nevertheless, for the same reasons, they can also be limiting. This is especially true in terms of “citizen scholarship.” Without a thorough understanding of the ways in which academics choose which tools to use in their projects, non-academic users are unaware of the structure behind their experience of the text.
This problem, among others, speaks to the challenges of using or creating a social edition.