This week's topic, amateur creators, is quite timely because that was one of the issues that came up in my interview with an expert for the technology evaluation assignment. He cited the Internet Archive's live music collection of the Grateful Dead as an example of what a good digital collection should be. One reason for this is that it was built by the fan community. These amateurs uploaded their own live audio recordings of Grateful Dead concerts to the Internet Archive. They created all the metadata and organization for the collection, and through the forums and comment features, they were able to communicate and critique each other's work. It is a remarkable achievement because, to date, there are 9,613 items in the Grateful Dead collection. One can download recordings made by audience members or stream studio-recorded audio.
Last week, we discussed Wikipedia and how there is a small, dedicated group of amateurs edit entries. Likewise with this collection, a dedicated amateur fan-base, the famed Deadheads, have teamed up to produce high-quality content and build an extensive collection of live music. There are issues of copyright in play here as well. The Internet Archive has a substantial FAQ about what material can and cannot be uploaded, and the Grateful Dead collection page also has a section outlining its "trading policy." Legal issues aside, this collection is quite impressive, and the amateurs who built it should be proud.