One of the hardest parts of working in the global community that contributes to Wikipedia, is that we have millions of content pages and thousands of contributors working on hundreds of different activities with hundreds of different approaches all the time. Global reach means global participation, and a more than overwhelming number of possible ways to intervene and different approaches to contributing (I talk about this diversity in an earlier blog post). One of the ways in which we create a more unified sense of community is through community communications. We have a number of different communications venues, from the English Wikipedia’s community newspaper (the Wikipedia Signpost), to the Wikimedia Foundation Blog (http://blog.wikimedia.org/) to Planet Wikimedia (an RSS aggregation of blogs like mine at http://en.planet.wikimedia.org/).
For the GLAM-Wiki community (unaware of that term? Check out my previous post explaining GLAM-Wiki), the growing popularity of collaborations around the world makes it almost impossible to keep up. For this reason, globally, we have a GLAM-Wiki newsletter on Outreach Wiki which allows us to share reports about activities. However, textual documents often get overlooked in a world where we get a barrage of blogs, texts, tweets, emails and other activities. Also reporting through documentation can be hard, and spotty at times, because we all do a number of different and time consuming activities that don’t require active writing. To supplement this written venue of communication, as of this spring, the United States GLAM-Wiki consortium has been doing a series of Google Hangouts, called GLAMOuts, to communicate some of the major initiatives happening in the United States and post it in another public format online (YouTube video). The format is pretty simple: participants for the hangouts self select through a call for participants on the homepage for GLAMouts and an email list amongst US GLAM-Wiki participants; and the participants show up during an hour block to talk for 5, 10 or 15 minutes about what they are doing and why. These GLAMouts allow the U.S. GLAM-Wiki community to create a cohesion and energy within our activities, sharing best practices and knowledge.
This month’s GLAMOut (available in recording on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wI4x9rjhYlw&feature=youtu.be ) on Friday featured the Wikipedian in Residence at the Smithsonian Institution, the Wikipedian in Residence at the Metropolitan New York Library Council and the Wikipedia Library Initiative along with myself. All the attendees presented very innovative approaches for their projects. Though I won’t summarize all we talked about, I would like to highlight how each of the other presenters talked about work with libraries in the U.S.:
- The Metropolitan New York Library Council is working toward integrating Wikipedia into the workflow of Librarians, so as to ensure that Library resources of special significance (such as exhibits, special collections or digital resources) get used as references or foundations on Wikipedia (thus getting higher publicity). This is not entirely a new approach, Wikipedians and librarians have been talking about Wikipedia integration for a long time (take for instance this reflection on how to integrate library resources into Wikipedia, which bases its advise and reflection on this 2007 article in D-Lib Magazine). However, by systematically presenting to and conversing with a number of the libraries in New York City, they have built a very comprehensive “How to” guide in a LibGuide, a format many librarians are used to.
- Dominic McDevitt-Parks, the Wikipedian in residence at the Smithsonian Institution, is also talking to a group of libraries in Boston, Massachusetts to create a across the city series of Massachussetts History editing events during Open Access Week (October 21 – 27).
- The Wikipedia Library Project is negotiating with big (often pay-walled) publishers and university libraries to allow Wikipedians free access to their research materials in order to improve Wikipedia (for more information about the resources and the effort check out the homepage for the project).
All these projects actively work to better integrate access to academic knowledge and resources into the Wikimedia community in order to improve public access and awareness of those materials. As I have mentioned previously on my blog, these activities and their overwhelming success hinges around the basic assumptions grounding field of knowledge management: that the best way for people to effectively find and use information is to gather it on highly visible and accessible digital platforms that allow interaction and collaboration. For these projects, the GLAM-Wiki look towards more traditional knowledge gathering organizations (libraries) and actively works to place that information in the most visible (and non-commercial) public space on the internet: Wikipedia. What an invigorating and exciting conversation! I am glad that I was part of it!
It is the beginning of a new week, and the semester is already becoming very busy (9 meetings last week including the GLAMOut)! However, the Blake initiative is having lots of success both reaching out to Blake Scholars, Wikipedians and our own community at K-State. Hopefully, this week, I can write a couple more posts finishing up my conversation I started on GLAM-Wiki metrics and reporting on the Blake Archive’s impact on Wikipedia and then a more thorough blog post exploring the what, why and how efforts from different organizations both on and off Kansas States’s campus are effecting my internship.