Incentives

Working in the digital humanities often requires a commitment to doing things that one might prefer to avoid. Some of them are tied directly to incentives-- a scholar is unlikely to receive funding for an "innovative" project if he has failed to keep up with new technologies. The incentive is less strong in other cases: data entry, OCR proofreading, data formatting, and writing documentation are time-consuming and tedious, and it is possible to do just enough to satisfy the funding agency for a project, even if the resulting product is not optimally useful. There is sometimes no incentive at all, save vague promises of "interoperability", for building a tool in a sustainable, standards-compliant way.

Models for incentivizing "good" behavior vary, depending on the behavior in question. Some participants recommended engaging the public in tasks like metadata correction, if it could be presented in the framework of a game. It was suggested that scholars might be receptive to financial incentives, or a break from teaching duties, in exchange for contributing content to a project or writing documentation. Tool developers may be more willing to use standards if it could lead to some kind of "seal of approval" from a major consortium that could prove influential when applying for future funding.

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