Semester starts, and collaboration expands!

William Blake in Conversation with the Astrologer John Varley - the Right - by John Linnell (cropped, contrast increased) from Wikimedia Commons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:William_Blake_in_Conversation_with_the_Astrologer_John_Varley_-_the_Right_-_by_John_Linnell.jpg

William Blake in Conversation with the Astrologer John Varley – the Right – by John Linnell (cropped, contrast increased) from Wikimedia Commons 

Today is officially the first day of the semester, and already good news for my internship and the Blake Archive collaboration! I was very pleased this weekend to get a message from User:Dmitrismirnov, a Wikipedian mostly active on Russian Wikipedia, saying that he had created a new English-language article on William Blake’s series of pencil and black chalk sketches called “Visionary Heads“. The series of sketches were inspired by late night meeting John Varley, an astrologer, during the later part of Blake’s life. The sketches depict visions of historical figures whom appeared to Blake in visions, as if sitting for a portrait. You should check out the article, or even contribute more information to it! The article is by no means complete, but that’s part of what makes Wikipedia so empowering: at least the information is out there for those who didn’t know about the sketches and we can know expand and improve that content as opportunity becomes available. If you know something about the Visionary Heads, or would like to learn more by researching them, why not edit the page! It’s fairly easy to contribute, simply create an editing account and begin writing. If you find yourself with questions or concerns, we also have community spaces, like our Teahouse, which can help new editors figure out how to use the site.

Speaking of the synergistic effects of social media: my blog has brought me in contact with a librarian of the National Library of Medicine, who has worked with Blake’s scientific illustrations of which the library holds a copy! Hopefully we can find some form of collaboration to improve the public awareness of these materials through Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons and other platforms! I am very excited to learn more about their collection and works as we follow up on that conversation.

Both of these experiences, just in the last couple days, demonstrate just how empowering Wikipedia and GLAM Cooperations can be for bringing together people of varied interests to work on knowledge that they are passionate about. Wikipedia’s global reach, from Kansas to regions speaking Russian, and ability to bring public relevance to institutions, like the Blake Archive, Kansas State’s Beach Museum and the National Library of Medicine, ensures a digital gathering place for physically distanced individuals.

Since I am in the middle of preparing for the writing classes I teach as part of my graduate study, I will keep this blog post short! But what an exciting day: already my activities are paying off! Would you like to be part of that impact? How can I help? What do you need to know to better expand public knowledge about Blake or another subject?

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