QualPage was originally designed as a private repository of information for graduate students learning about qualitative data analysis software (QDAS). Originally a Gopher site, it evolved into a Web page around 1994. I had been giving guest lectures about QDAS in qualitative research courses at a time when the software developers began to develop Websites. Because the QDAS field was changing so rapidly, my class handout required constant revision. The advent of the Websites allowed me to simply link the sites along with other QDAS resources. QualPage could also serve as a future resource for the students; during their coursework few were at a stage in their thesis project to become serious about QDAS.
In January 1995 when I discovered that other sites were linking QualPage, I added some sections and announced the page on some of the qualitative discussion forums and in a qualitative research journal (Norris, 1995). Using a barn raising metaphor, my hope was that QualPage would be a place where qualfolke with all their diverse interests and expertise would contribute resources toward a useful collection. I had in mind Howard Rheingold's notion of an online gift economy where a free exchange of information and expertise in a spirit of reciprocity is a worthwhile investment of energy, “a marriage of altruism and self-interest” (1993, p. 58). Happily, people from many qualitative persuasions have continued to send URLs and suggestions. QualPage contains no original information; it is a collection site that links the work of others.
I like to think of QualPage as a dynamic artifact of a knowledge-building community. Through the miracle of the Internet we are enjoying unprecedented access to each other's scholarship and expertise. Bereiter and Scardamalia (1993) envision utopian knowledge-building communities where members share their knowledge and sustain the development of expertise within communities of experience. This was my vision for QualPage.
Judy Norris, March 4, 2003
Bereiter, C., & Scardamalia, M. (1993). Surpassing ourselves. An inquiry into the nature and implications of expertise . Peru, IL: Open Court.
Norris, J. (1995). You're invited to a barn raising: Building resources on the Internet for qualitative researchers. Qualitative Health Research , 5(3), 400-402.
Rheingold, H. (1993). The virtual community: Homesteading on the electronic frontier . Reading,MA: Addison-Wesley.