The Tech for Social Change Baltimore Meetup Message Board Meeting Logistics, Details, and Notes › 2013 June - Dominic McDevitt-Parks and Dylan Kinnett - Wikipedia

2013 June - Dominic McDevitt-Parks and Dylan Kinnett - Wikipedia

Kate B.
Harrogate, GB
Post #: 39
Technology and Social Change Baltimore was joined by Dominic McDevitt-Parks, a member of Wikimedia DC, the Wikipedian in Residence at the Smithsonian Institution and former Wikipedian in Residence at The National Archives, and Dylan Kinnett, the Manager of Web and Social Media at the Walters Art Museum. They introduced Wikipedia and discussed how the Walters has been using Wikipedia to fulfill its mission.

Background (Dominic McDevitt-Parks)

Wikipedia "is a collaboratively edited, multilingual, free Internet encyclopedia supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation." The Wikimedia Foundation has a number of other major projects, where people share and collaboratively edit content:

  • Wiktionary - "a multilingual free content dictionary in every language"
  • Wikiquote - "a repository of quotations taken from famous people, books, speeches, films or any intellectually interesting materials"
  • Wikibooks - "a collection of free e-book resources, including textbooks, language courses, manuals, and annotated public domain books"
  • Wikisource - "a collection of free and open content texts"
  • Wikispecies - "an open, wiki-based project to provide a central, more extensive species database for taxonomy"
  • Wikinews - a collection of collaboratively written reports that "range from original reporting and interviews to summaries of news from external sources"
  • Wikiversity - a collection of "learning materials and learning communities"
  • Wikivoyage - a "free, complete and up-to-date world-wide travel guide"
  • Wikimedia Commons - "a central repository for free photographs, diagrams, maps, videos, animations, music, sounds, spoken texts, and other free media"
  • Wikidata - "a free knowledge base about the world that can be read and edited by humans and machines alike"

The Wikimedia Foundation has no paid editorial staff, and all of its content, including contributions, are licensed under a free Creative Commons license.

Contributing Content (Dominic McDevitt-Parks)

Wikipedia is like a traditional encyclopedia. Content must

  • have a neutral point of view
  • be verifiable
  • not be original research

Wikipedia articles never make arguments; they document the existing literature. Each different point of view should be given the due weight it merits based on the existing literature.

Editors debate how articles cover controversial positions, even those related to Pokemon characters, by citing sources. Each article is written based on what canonical texts (scholarly journals and primary sources) say.

Every revision is tracked and archived. This makes it very easy to address poor revisions and vandalism. In fact, people could go in and remove all of the articles, but because of the number of people watching each page, it would likely be reverted quickly. (Tip: You can subscribe to any page you've edited to be notified about changes.)

Wikipedia wants content contributions from you and others in your organization. A few tips:

  • Join the community, and figure out its norms first.
  • Be bold in updating pages.
  • Contribute thoughtfully and in good faith.
  • Meet the community's needs instead of simply promoting your organization.
  • Ask if you don't understand why content you added was removed. (Use the View History link. For example, the View History page for the Contributing FAQ.)
  • Don't act like a spammer by just adding external links. Instead, add citations or write a couple of sentences or paragraphs based on the page you are linking to.

You can also read Wikipedia's Contributing FAQ for more information on contributing to Wikipedia.

Dominic emphasized the importance of joining the community, figuring out its norms, and meeting its needs as well as your own. This is especially important if you make a mistake. If you are a member of the community in good standing and a misunderstanding happens, you can just talk to others as a member of the community instead of as an outsider.

Why Your Organization Should Contribute (Dominic McDevitt-Parks)

Your organization is an expert on the work you do; however, most people searching for information go to Wikipedia and not your website. If you aren't paying attention to the Wikipedia content about issues your organization works on or if you think the Wikipedia content related to the work you do isn't very good, you have a responsibility to update that content because people will be using that content. And it's unlikely they'll search out your organization's website to find out the content is bad or misleading. They'll just act, or not act, based on bad content.

Wikipedia is also an ally for many organizations. Wikipedia has a large number of volunteers (real people) who are doing work online and offline.

Cultural institutions are natural partners. In fact, a the Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums (GLAM) Wiki was created to help them get started.

The Wikimedia Foundation has a chapter based in DC but covering DC, MD, VA, and WV, Wikimedia DC. Dominic would love to see Baltimore more represented.
Kate B.
Harrogate, GB
Post #: 40
The Walters Art Museum (Dylan Kinnett)

From the Walters' website: Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland is internationally renowned for its collection of art, which was amassed substantially by two men, William and Henry Walters, and eventually bequeathed to the City of Baltimore. The collection presents an overview of world art from pre-dynastic Egypt to 20th-century Europe, and counts among its many treasures Greek sculpture and Roman sarcophagi; medieval ivories and Old Master paintings; Art Deco jewelry and 19th-century European and American masterpieces.

The Walters wants to bring art and people together. Putting digitized versions of their 35,000 works of art online is one way of doing that, since only a small number can be on display at one time.

Since everything in the Walters' collection is public property, the organization feels the information generated about the art should also be public property. (It's very helpful that the artists behind the art are generally long dead.) The goal is to digitize all of the Walters' content, but due to resource limitations, they've started with 20,000 images from their database. Digitization is a slow process, and while the Walters' has 150 people on staff, they rely on extra grant-funded positions to digitize content.

Putting the images online allows people to make their own judgements. Curators stop curating the objects and instead are curating the information about the objects. For example, most curators think this camel is ugly and poorly made, but the public loves it. Putting it online allows people to enjoy a piece that most curators wouldn't put on display.

The Wiki Commons Project (Dylan Kinnett)

The Walters' biggest project has been uploading images to the Wiki Commons. (See what they've uploaded at Collections of The Walters' Art Museum.) These images are then used in related Wikipedia articles by Wikipedia volunteers.

Working with GLAM made this project possible. During a weekend at the National Archives in February 2012, the Walters' met up with the Wikimedia Foundation and a number of the Foundation's smart friends.

To make this happen, the Walters' had to make some concessions.

  • The licenses for the images had to be changed. Wikipedia permits Wiki Commons images to be used commercially, so the Walters' images needed to be able to be used commercially as well. Within the Walters, this was a little controversial; however, it ended up that the value of the audience and goodwill gained has been greater than the amount lost to potential commericial use of the images.
  • The Walters' chosen conventions weren't always the ones that Wiki Commons and Wikipedia had chosen to follow. However, this also had an unanticipated benefit. The Walters' had a list of Asian names that had been created in 1930. It needed to be cleaned up, but the Walters hadn't had the resources to do so. The Wikimedia volunteers cleaned up this list for the Walters.

Be careful what you publish. It is very hard to unpublish it. The Walters' published a few images they shouldn't have, and it took some negiotiations to get those images taken down. (And they were only taken down because the Walters' had built a lot of goodwill by being community members.)

To make this project work:

  • The Walters had to think about how they would update multiple sources when new information was discovered or corrections needed to be made. They knew they didn't want their curators to be responsible for publishing new or corrected content in multiple systems. To prevent this, they are using a CMS to publish the information to internal and external systems. This also allows them to establish a canonical copy.
  • The Walters' has embedded metadata into the images that are published. In some systems, like Flickr, this metadata can be extracted and prevents staff from needing to re-type information. It also allows information about credits, sources, and links to be embedded in the images.

The results have been overwhelmingly positive.

The Walters went live in 3/2012 with their Wiki Commons collection. At that time, images from the Walters' Wiki Commons collection were used in 27 Wikipedia articles in 12 languages. Most of these images had been placed in these articles by staff of The Walters Art Museum. In 12/2012, images from the Walters' Wiki Commons collection were in 1,357 articles in over 40 languages. Most of these images had been place in these articles by Wikipedia volunteers. (Staff at the Walters did about 2 and the Walters' Wikipedian in Residence did about 100.) The Walters tries to participate but not steer the conversation about where these images are placed. As of late Spring 2013, 2,130 images from the Walters' collection are used in Wikimedia Foundation projects. The articles where the images are places have been viewed over 10 million times in over 40 languages.

The Walters has also seen an increase in referrals from Wikipedia. In January 2012, Wikimedia Foundation projects referred about 2,000 visitors to the Walters website. In 2013, Google, Twitter, and Facebook are still the top referrers, but Wikimedia Foundation projects are in the secound half of the top ten.

The Walters is also starting to get more informed questions from those who have used Wikipedia to research the collection. These questions are coming through channels like email, phone, Twitter, and so on. The curators love this and love the direct contact with the public.

As a next step, docents are being trained to use iPads to answer questions about items that are available online but aren't viewable in the collection. The Walters is also beginning to think about how to generate an even larger audience for the content.

Other Projects (Dylan Kinnett)

The Walters' next step will be to digitize manuscripts and upload them to Wikisource. Right now, they are having a lot of conversations about how to make non-English texts usable.

They also hosted a hackathon, where they invited the public to come and do a project of their own choosing. The event was successful. Some of the teams were hired to finish their projects. The next hackathon is scheduled for February 8-9, 2014.
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