Involving the Population and Open-Source Tools
Another quite revolutionary initiative of ENArC is the direct inclusion of all citizens of Europe into the processing and indexing of European cultural assets. For a long time, the viewing of archival documents was generally restricted to a limited user audience and their processing and indexing reserved to expert archivists.
Latest since the introduction of “Wikipedia”-like platforms in all different sorts of areas there has been a trend to let the general public participate in virtual offerings of such kind. On the one hand, this counteracts the usually tenuous situation regarding financial and personal capacities at archival institutions that often find themselves unable to afford the detailed
compilation and itemisation of historical documents. On the other hand, one must not underestimate the importance of scientific commentaries and contributions of historically interested laypersons for the interpretation of European archival records. Such contributions can be made any time by means of collaborative Internet tools.
Thus, ENArC addresess the development of open-source tools that can be used for such a purpose on various portals and digital resources. High-quality scans will build the basis for the standardised indexing of individual source documents, which can be done by using the integrated web-based text editor and itemisation tools. The project follows the idea of Web 2.0 insofar as any interested person may sign up as an “editor” and actively participate in the thorough indexing of archival records. As opposed to online encyclopaedias such as Wikipedia ENArC subjects newly created information to a strict quality control carried out by a team of moderators and editors.
In this case, we take our starting point in the collaborative online system EditMOM, created for the virtual charters archive of Monasterium.Net (www.mom-ca.uni-koeln.de). This system offers a perfect way for indexing large amounts of digital archival records and will within the scope of given project be further developed beyond charter processing to include the online handling of other kinds of historical sources as well. In the area of medieval source research, Monasterium.net is so far the only portal worldwide equipped with a collaborative, web-based editing tool. Accordingly, ENArC stands as a pioneer by allowing hitherto unknown insight into European culture and history while at the same time opening up new possibilities
of scientific research.
The indexing standards for archival source material follow common scientific guidelines. The University of Cologne (DE) as a project partner with long-standing experience in this area holds responsible for the development and implementation of the above tools.