EEBO Interactions, the web site that fused social networking and digital bibliography, is shutting down at the end of March 2013.
ProQuest’s decision to decommission EEBO Interactions should come as no surprise. If traffic indicates success, the site received too little to certify its academic or commercial value. The small core of contributors who worked brilliantly and doggedly to improve bibliographic entries was not enough to prove that value. Why should it be? In a world where crowd-sourcing promises instant and free correction, EEBO Interactions‘ small stream of corrections proved too little and too slow.
Nevertheless, the decision to shut down EEBO Interactions is a disappointment because it ends a promising and visionary venture on ProQuest’s part. Proquest accomplished at least two great things. First, it offered a rare joint venture uniting academic and commercial worlds. Second, it conjured up the first bibliography to offer relational cataloging. If this iteration of that vision did not quite take off, it is to be hoped that later iterations will. Traffic may be one indication of success, but vision is another.
As an editor for EEBO Interactions, I would like to thank EI‘s contributors. They are a special group of readers, experts willing to put time into a promising experiment. I have told Stephen Brooks that I would ask emob readers what EEBO Interactions could have done to encourage traffic or otherwise improve. What might a second iteration include or not include? Is an unedited, crowd-sourced version of EEBO that runs parallel to EEBO the way to go for such interactions? Or is an ESTC-led editorial board the way? An option in between these two poles?
One note of caution. Anyone interested in preserving information recorded on EEBO Interactions should download material before the end of the month. ProQuest will save material contributed to EI in some form, but it will be difficult to access.