RoSE exists primarily to fulfill the expectations set by its full name, the Research-oriented Social Environment. It’s structured as a “comprehensive” (although I understand that time constraints may have caused the creators to skimp or abandon certain entries) library of literary and scientific personalities. Entries for new historical figures can be added or revised at will, much like a looser form of Wikipedia, and these individual pages are then supplemented by materials that attest to a specific person’s authorial career. For example, one of the more complete pages, William Shakespeare’s, includes a near-complete bibliography of his works, as well as hierarchical “map” that shows his connections to his contemporaries and his followers. These auxiliary resources, as well as the basic library of pages, comprise the “research-oriented” agenda of the project.
Pages, not surprisingly, seem to mirror the early design philosophy of “social environment” Facebook. However, RoSE’s communal aspect comes from its structure as a scholarly wiki, a type of site where a group of dedicated users can generate and edit content with ease, although this particular wiki’s disregard to quality control (not every page has a great deal of robustness) and uniform distribution of content (some pages just have names assigned to them) hampers its effectiveness a bit.
In short, RoSE aims to create a central hub for information about notable historical icons by linking the sharing of related documents and knowledge to a tight-knit, scholarly community.
Because of its distinctive nature as a “network” of information, associated people, and other related data, RoSE just seems like a glorified, specialized library system (with far less content) However, the ambition of RoSE is to transcend the intentions of the original print resources that are both included and reflected upon in a nearly-limitless digital setting. The “research-oriented” sector of this tool allows for easy access to a myriad of articles and secondary sources about the selected writer or figure, and the “social environment” allows for an open, consistent dialogue about the strong selection of documents and legacies that RoSE has to offer, which could greatly impact the effectiveness of research endeavors.
However, because of its central focus as a thorough research tool, its appeal to a broader audience seems to be at stake. In fact, I found myself bored with the site a few minutes in, which is either a reflection of the lack of substantial information on most of the “profiles” I visited, or the fact that I was viewing the digital project as both a casual reader and as a scholar.
The sheer scope and breadth of RoSE as a project seems to be too heavy-handed for a project in our class, however I could see projects which implement RoSE’s more visual components, such as a visualization of a work or author’s impact on the larger world. I’ve included a screenshot of William Shakespeare’s below due to its relative completeness, but this might be adapted in our classroom to be less overwhelming and, as evident through the different mathematical configurations of the chart, sharply less technical.