Thursday, 13 October 2011

#libcampuk11 session 4: using wikimedia to improve access

(Library Camp UK 2011 home | my other posts about it)

In this session Andy Mabbett introduced us to ways of using wikimedia (the parent organisation (owned by the Wikimedia Foundation) to Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikimedia commons, etc.).  Andy is a real evangelist for making the most of wiki* to benefit your own organisations or products.

GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums)
Wikimedia is actively seeking to encourage collaboration from heritage organisations, as you can see from the GLAM outreach wiki. Andy described a 'backstage pass event' he'd been to at Derby Museum and Art Gallery. Wikipedia editors had been invited along to a day's event, to have talks and tours about and around the museum, and a cup of tea and a biscuit, all with the aim in getting more coverage of the museum and its holdings.  Andy pointed out that by doing a little to make people special, they will do lots in return: 1,200 new articles (and translations) were created as a result of this one-day event (including this one about a racing pigeon).

There are all sorts of potential events that you can run to engage the local community, or the community of wikipedia editors, that will benefit your organisation in terms of improved visibility.

Putting stuff on wiki*
There are two criteria for including an article on Wikipedia:
  1. it must be about a notable thing - i.e. something that's written about elsewhere
  2. you have to cite what you say - you can't include original research or unsupported statements.
This leaves a lot of scope for GLAMs to include articles about themselves, their collections and their notable holdings.  You can't have an article (or links to) every single hand axe in the country, but if you're is significant, or you have a copy of book that exists in very low numbers, than that's worthy of inclusion.

You can also release images, video, audio and animations on Wikimedia Commons.  It's good to release material with a licence allowing reuse with attribution - and then your pictures can be used anywhere, and will link back to your organisation. 

If you have a large volume of images, Wikimedia can help with batch imports, and they maintain their servers so that the images are preserved.  In addition, the pictures are now available to all sorts of people who'll be able to help identify them and items in them.

QRpedia (intro | intro on GLAM wiki | actual site)
QRpedia is a doohickey that makes QR codes to link to Wikipedia pages. When someone scans the code, QRpedia return the wikipedia page in the phone's language where possible (interesting discussion of 'difficult' languages here).  Why is this cool? It means that visitors can get information about things in your exhibition in their own language without you having to make three hundred different signs.  Obviously, if you link to a very specific page there will be fewer language options that a very general one, but translations are increasing all the time...

We were encouraged to sign up for an account and to start editing Wikipedia pages, for example by correcting punctuation or by translating an article (e.g. into Simple English) (Andy suggested hitting the 'random article' button until you found something that needed tidying up).  I've set up my account, and have done my first editing (a very undramatic addition of a link at the end of an article).

I found this session really useful.  Wikipedia is out there, and the very thing that means that some people view it as shady and disreputable is the thing that makes it powerful for us: we can edit it.  I think it's a great idea that organisations use Wikipedia to improve their online presence: people will be looking us up there, so why not give them good information, and decent links to our own sites?

However, I can imagine that selling the use of wikipedia (e.g. via qrpedia as a help to visitors) might be difficult to sell to the organisation... or it might be seen as lazy.  Do other people think it's something they could get agreement to do?

And finally...
For those interested in that sort of thing, there's also a linked-data-y DBpedia: "a community effort to extract structured information from Wikipedia and to make this information available on the Web"

1 comment:

  1. A lovely write-up, and some probing questions, discussion of which I shall enjoy watching! Thank you.