Open Online Research: Developing Software and Method for Collaborative Interpretation

Christian Bröer, Gerben Moerman, Johan Casper Wester, Liza Rubinstein Malamud, Lianne Schmidt, Annemiek Stoopendaal, Nynke Kruiderink, Christina Hansen, Hege Sjølie


Inspired by the potentials of web-based collaboration, in 2014, a group of social scientists, students and information specialists started tinkering with software and methodology for open online collaborative research. The results of their research led to a gathering of academics at the #ethnography Conference Amsterdam 2014, where new material was collected, shared and collaboratively interpreted. Following the conference, they continued to develop software and methodology. In this contribution, we report on the aims, methodology, inspiring examples, caveats and results from testing several prototypes of open online research software. We conclude that open online collaborative interpretation is both feasible and desirable. Dialogue and reflexivity, we hold, are able to transcend separated perspectives and stimulate agreement on a set of distinct interpretations; they simultaneously respect the multiplicity of understandings of social phenomena whilst bringing order into this diversity.



open online research; collaborative interpretation; software development; ethnography

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Copyright (c) 2016 Christian Bröer

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