Archive for the 'Wikipedia' Category

Open Access Wikipedia Challenge on P2PU

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012 by Max

It’s been traditional recently to hold Wikipedia Loves Libraries events during Open Access Week, and I fully support the practice. What’s also been traditional, in a way that I wanted to change, was the editathon¬†format for those events. After scrunching my mind to brainstorm and consulting with other Wikipedia Loves Libraries volunteers on ways of experimental trainings and celebrations, we came up with¬†Open Access Wikipedia Challenge.¬† ¬†The challenge is to embed media that was harvested from Open Access journals in Wikipedia, and we created a special edition barnstar for completing it. This challenge is totally friendly to newbies and librarians as it includes over 1 hour total of six screencast tutorial videos that explain every detail right from account creation, to Wikipedia’s transclusion, and each module has waypoint challenges. At the time of this writing already nine challengers have accepted.

Below is the introductory video which is hosted on youtube, and the challenge is on P2PU.

Max Klein
twitter: @notconfusing 

Wikipedia Loves Libraries — how you can participate?

Monday, October 15th, 2012 by Merrilee

Over the summer, our Wikipedian in Residence, Max, did two webinars that gave librarians a glimpse behind the curtain of Wikipedia. One of the things he highlighed in those webinars was Wikipedia Loves Libraries, a Wikipedia-conceived initiative to bring libraries (and archives) closer together. We were heartened to learn that at least two of the events that are planned (at the Multnomah County Library on October 27th and West Hollywood on November 17th) were at least in part inspired by our webinars! There are also events planned at the New York Public Library, Princeton University, the Smithsonian, George Washington University, Indiana University, and elsewhere — you can check out the full list here.

What about you? Are you interested in hosting an event and partnering with local Wikipedians? There is a handy form to get you started, and lots of good models online. And if you want some handholding or have questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

You can also watch the webinars if you are intrigued.

Cousins: The Bookworm and Wikignome

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012 by Max

As we all know, the best you can hope of a meeting is not a conclusion, but a chuckle at a statistical oddity. When OCLC’s Top Library Loans List came out, such a positive meeting was had. Upon glancing the pulp fiction (see chart below) I wondered if Wikipedia editors were also driven by such trivia? I turned to Python, R, and article edit histories to find out.

The top 10 list is such:

  1. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  2. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  3. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
  5. Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
  6. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  7. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  8. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
  9. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Thinking by Susan Cain
  10. Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

Now let’s take a tour through Wikipedia’s history for a feeling for the editors affinities towards these monographs:

We can tell that there isn’t a lot of similarity between the novels, except that they’ve all experience small peaks within the last year or so. That isn’t surprising, because the list in question is for the most requested inter-library loans for the period of a year starting July 11th 2011. So let’s take a look at how actively edited these books were in that time frame.

Besides the fact that the relationship here looks a bit exponential, as we’d expect of crowdsourced material, there is another curious correlation afoot. The ordering of the monographs by edits, is remarkably similar to the ranking by loan-requests. Keeping the by-edits ordering, then charting the loan positions we get something reassuringly linear.

In fact the the Top 6 are exactly predicted. If you were going use¬† quick-sort inversion counting analysis to compare the closeness of two lists, I believe you get the low count of 2 (correct me if I’m wrong). This indicates that there is a possible correlation between book demand in the library and wikipedia editor interest online. So librarians take note, when deciding on your stock, pre-empt the rush and look to Wikipedia – the Wikignomes have a psychic connection with the bookworms.

Not confusingly yours,

Max Klein, Wikipedian in Residence

P.S. The code to look at and graph Wikipedia articles is a small project I’ve open sourced, and is available on github. I’ve also built in the functionality to pull stats from a Wikipedia category, which allows for such fun as, looking at the entire edit histories of all the Pulitzer Prize Winners.

Wikimania 2012: copyright and closing thoughts

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012 by Merrilee

This is the last in series of posting on my first Wikimania. I’m (mostly) focusing on the connection between Wikipedia and libraries, and approaching topics thematically, rather than going through the conference in order.

I was distracted by the Society of American Archivists meeting (which I’ll be blogging about soon!), but I’m back to wrap up Wikimania.

Wikisource, Wikicommons and the copyright conundrum

Discussion about IP rights came up in many discussions and presentations at Wikimania (as you would expect with a group so dedicated to increasing access to free knowledge), but the one I found most interesting was an Oxford style debate on the topic “That all Wikimedia projects should have Fair Use, or none of them.” Why is this important? Because Wikimedia is more than just Wikipedia, and has a range of projects which make content available. For example, The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) here in the United States is contributing to both Wikisource and to Wikicommons (I explained a little about these two Wikipedia “sister” projects in a previous post). Because Wikimedia projects exist in a very international context, contributions to Wikisource and Wikicommons must be very strictly in the public domain or covered under an appropriate licence that renders the materials as “free content” in a similar way (it’s important to note here that licensing that requires attribution is acceptable). Putting materials into either project and claiming fair use is in fact strictly prohibited.

I know that many institutions will find both Wikisource and Wikicommons to be attractive options, but there are few (U.S. based) institutions that will be able to put most or all of what they have digitized into these projects (NARA may be an exception, as may other government institutions or those who exclusively collect material from the 19th century or earlier.) This is too bad, because otherwise, Wikimedia projects are ideally aligned with the mission and aims of cultural heritage institutions. Still, there is much to collaborate around, so I’m still very excited!

Conference roundup

I want to wrap up by giving some of the high points as well as oddities I noted at this conference. The conference was very inexpensive compared to many library conferences (thank you, sponsors!). Registration ranged from $35 to $95, which included morning food and lunch (additionally, there was a reception each evening with some level of food and drink). This is the first conference I’ve attended (with the possible exception of ALA) which was “trending” on Twitter. Thanks to ubiquitous wireless, ample power, and an enthusiastic cadre of Twitterati, the conference stream was useful, and at times overwhelming. All the people I met were amazing. During lunch I was touched when people noticed that I was scanning for a friendly face and invited me to sit with them.

The conference was not without flaws. On several panels, at least one of the scheduled presenters was not present. Odd to me, everyone presented from their own laptop, rather than consolidating presentations on a single machine. To make matters worse, almost everyone was presenting from a Mac and the majority of them had difficulty shifting displays. This was amusing to me, both because of the Mac’s “intuitive” reputation and also because of otherwise extraordinary tech prowess of presenters. However, the time wasted dorking with technology was considerable. If Raganathan had rules for conferencing, one of them would surely be “save the time of the attendee.”

Attending Wikimania was a terrific experience and I hope I have the opportunity to attend in the future. As I have said repeatedly, I have been excited about the potential for alliances between libraries and other cultural heritages institutions and Wikipedia / Wikimedia. Attending the conference only cemented my conviction.

Goodbye Wikimania, see you next time!

If you want to take a look at some other blog posts summarizing the conference from the LAM perspective, see Ed Summers on Wikimania Revisited and the Biodiversity Heritage Library’s report, Wikimania 2012 & BHL

Wikipedia and Libraries: The Afterwebinar

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012 by Max

At 556 attendees strong the recent OCLC Research Webinars “Librarians are Wikipedians Too” and ¬†”Wikipedia and Libraries: The Connection” piqued the progressive, exploratory minds of Librarians worldwide. Conviced tech managers at independent research libraries asked for help to jump onto the Commons¬†mass upload bandwagon. Reference Librarians started to dream up combined workshop / editathons, from the explanation of the two. ¬†As well workshops and edithons the webinars outlined the 5 classical points of collaboration between the two communities, and how to forensically evaluate which areas of Wikipedia are fertile for Library linking.

A webinar is nothing without it’s audience and their questions. ¬†We answered as many as we could at the time, but there were some more difficult questions to answer, which now clear of time restraints, I’ll answer in full.

Where to go next:

The answer of where to go next is somewhat of a mantra we hope to impose: “the wiki”. ¬†The Wikipedia Loves Libraries portal¬†is a growing base of related materials, ideas, and links to the subject. We recognize that using a wiki to get help with wikis can be somewhat of a contradiction, and have set up a simple form to get paired with Wikipedians in a more traditional way.

Unanswered questions from Chat:

Question from Bob Kosovsky to All Participants (02:54:43 PM):

Max: WP is 6th most used website; but acc. to visualizations I’ve seen, DPpedia is THE most used data source; can you talk about the implications of DPpedia being the MAIN source of data/information for numerous websites?

I think you’re referring to this image,

Linked Open Data

which shows DBpedia as the center of the Linked Open Data universe. DBpedia is a database of information scraped and infered from Wikipedia. It being this large has the implications that Google searches will be eerily smart, and occasionally possibly wrong. Beyond that it signals that despite some best effort to deride crowdsourcing as untrustworthy, the internet are utilitarian.

Question from Madeline Wagner to All Participant

I would like to know more about how “minority” views on a subject are handled : ie the recent article by a scholar who tried to edit the entry on the Haymarket affair.

This question leads to an advanced and philosophical design choice of Wikipedia. The controversy arond the Haymarkey affair on Wiki (chronicled here) highlights, that Wikipedia is not an encyclopedia of¬†truth but an encyclopedia of proof¬†. That is, by design, the facts that belong on Wikipedia are the ones that can be sourced, and true-but-no-provable statements aren’t valid Wikipedic content. Wikipedia is this way for practical reasons. For a full justfication read the essay “Wikipedia:Truth – A place for minority views.”

Question from Michele Combs to All Participants (02:58:36 PM):

Rule of thumb seems to be “no institutional WP accounts,” only individual ones so that there is a single responsible person for each edit; would you advocate permitting creation of institutional accounts for creation/editing so as to make edits more credible/authoritative?

Let us be pragmatic. It’s highly unlikely that Wikipedia would ever change it’s policy to allow group accounts, because if you are looking to make a user account’s edits more authoritative then we’ve lost the equity granted to anonymous users – a very historic tenet. To achieve a unity and community respect for a library’s editors as whole I’d suggest using a naming scheme in the vein of [name]+[institution]. For instance in my personal life I am User:Maximilianklein¬†but when I edit for OCLC I use User:Maximiliankleinoclc¬†which knots mine and my institution’s reputation.

Question from Kjerste Christensen to All Participants (02:33:07 PM):

If your library has a strong focus in a particular area, what about partnering with a WikiProject related to that subject area to look up information or scan media as needed?

This isn’t really a question at all but a fantastic comment. Click here to view the directory of Wikiprojects.

And remember — it’s ¬†not confusing¬†



Wikimania 2012 — mind the gap

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012 by Merrilee

This is the third in a series of posting on my first Wikimania. I’m (mostly) focusing on the connection between Wikipedia and libraries, and approaching topics thematically, rather than going through the conference in order.

Mind the [gender] gap
The Wikipedia community has been paying a lot of attention to the “gender gap” which was revealed in a study by University of Minnesota researchers last year. Therefore I was surprised to see so many women attending Wikimania — I don’t have official numbers, but I would say perhaps woman accounted for 1/3 of attendees. The conference programming reflected the concern about the gap (“how can you represent the sum of all knowledge if you don’t involve the sum of all people?”). The opening keynote was delivered by Mary Gardiner from the Ada Initiative, who focussed on ways to increase and encourage diversity in communities (my takeaway from this session — when someone is trying to give you advice on how to improve, “stop being defensive; shut up and listen.”). Both Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Sue Gardner wove the issue of gender diversity into their remarks. The Wikimedia Foundation is investing in addressing the gender gap, and an outcome of this is the Teahouse project, which offers peer support for new editors and is particularly aimed at being welcoming to women. There was also a Wiki Women’s lunch, which was attended by more than 120 women (Sue Gardner remarked that at her first Wikimania in 2007, the number was more like six).

WikiWomen's Lunch

WikiWomen’s Lunch

Interestingly the gender gap is not entirely a “wiki” or technology problem; I attended a session on wikiHow (a for profit company in which content is contributed by volunteers) which has a high percentage of female contributors — in fact, in wikiHow, the majority of editors are women. In that session, the presenter said that wikiHow’s friendly culture was established early on by the (male) company founder, who paid attention to and emphasized niceness in communications. She also said that Wikipedians have a reputation for being “mean online and nice in person.” Indeed, one of the major goals of the Wikimedia foundation is to improving editor retention and increasing participation across all Wikimedia projects, and I could see this emphasis echoed in presentations on a number of projects that encourage kindness (and also help simplify things for newcomers).

Wikimania 2012 – Wikipedia goes GLAM

Monday, July 30th, 2012 by Merrilee

This is the second in a series of posting on my first Wikimania. I’m (mostly) focusing on the connection between Wikipedia and libraries, and approaching topics thematically, rather than going through the conference in order.

Wikipedia goes GLAM
I’ve been attracted to Wikipedia primary because of a set of recent GLAM outreach efforts (GLAM stands for Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums). This GLAM collaboration emphasis was clear at Wikimania, which featured an entire track devoted to GLAMs and GLAMerous topics. (There was also a whole track on open government; I’m sorry I wasn’t able to attend any of those sessions).

I attended a session on National GLAM coordinators. Many countries have adopted a model of having a person to help coordinate GLAM activities — this panel discussion included representatives from Germany, Sweden, US, France, Australia, UK, India, Israel. Interestingly, not all of the people on this panel (maybe only half?) fill this position in an official capacity, reflecting how much variety there is in how various national chapters of Wikipedia choose to operate.

GLAM coordinators panel

GLAM coordinators panel

There were also a number of “GLAM professional” — that is, librarians, archivists, and museum curators — presenting about their experiences working with Wikipedians. These were all very positive sessions. Pam Wright from NARA presented on NARA’s efforts to make their collections as accessible as possible (an agency that has embraced the principle, “who you are is defined by who you are online”). Sara Snyder from the Archives of American Art gave a talk titled “5 Reasons Why Archives are an Untapped Goldmine for Wikimedians” (the number one reason Wikipedians should want to work with archives? Archivists! They want to share information and help people); and Dominic McDevitt-Parks gave a presentation on how NARA is leveraging Wikisource to get volunteers to transcribed documents (check it out — it’s brilliant). Wikisource is attractive because asking for help with transcription is a relatively easy task for volunteers whereas writing encyclopedia articles is not so straightforward.

Wikipedian in Residence Dominic McDevitt-Parks shows his NARA spirit

Wikipedian in Residence Dominic McDevitt-Parks shows his NARA spirit

There was also a presentation about an in-the-works GLAM toolset which is being developed to help institutions more easily upload files to the Wikimedia Commons (right now this is pretty painful, and doesn’t scale to bulk uploads). But it’s not just getting images and other files uploaded, it’s also metadata wrangling that needs to be easier. And in addition to uploading and mapping metadata, tools for analytics to show how much files are being accessed and used — I can imagine that analytics will be important for motivating cultural heritage organizations to get involved.

On Thursday night there was a “GLAM Night Out” at the Newseum (OCLC was a sponsor). At the event, the formation of GLAM-Wiki US Consortium was annouced. The defining goal of the Consortium is to bring GLAM professionals together with Wikipedians to work and together more efficiently. You can read through this one-page overview of the Consortium’s broad goals and sign up to get involved. I am going to be participating in this group actively, and will blog about it as things get moving.

GLAM Night out at the Newseum

GLAM Night out at the Newseum

The closing plenary was given by the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero. As previously mentioned, NARA is quite invested in Wikipedia, and David quipped (to the joy of the crowd) “If Wikipedia is good enough for the Archivist of the United States, it should be good enough for you.” The love went both ways — during the talk, the Twitter backchannel was full of appreciative observations about David, including admiration for his seersucker suit. Shortly after his talk, an image of David (uploaded to the Wikimedia commons) was added as an illustration to the Wikipedia article on “Seersucker”. (David blogged about his talk on the AOTUS Blog)

Wikimania 2012 – Wikipedia Loves Libraries Workshop

Friday, July 27th, 2012 by Merrilee

In a previous post, I explained that I was both excited and nervous at the prospect of attending my first Wikimania. It turned out to be an amazing experience, and I had nothing to dread. There’s been a lot going through my mind since the conference, but I’ll try to sum up some of my experiences here before it goes entirely out of my head! I’m also going split this up into a number of blog posts grouped by theme because I was developing a truly monstrous post. So this will be the first in a short series.

My Wikimania started with a 4 hour workshop that Max and I had organized (nothing like jumping in with both feet!). We invited Wikimania attendees and local librarians to come to a session called Wikipedia Loves Libraries where we looked at models of collaboration between the Wikipedia community and librarians, highlighing Wikipedian in Residence programs and edit-a-thons, hearing from both “cultural heritage professionals” (as Wikipedians like to call us) and also from Wikipedians.

During the discussion session, we had a chance to hear about a number of Wikipedia’s “sister projects”:

  • Wikisource: a wiki ‚Äúdigital library‚ÄĚ of public domain materials. Institutions can contribute documents and invite the volunteers to transcribe the documents!
  • QRpedia, targeted at information retrieval from mobile devices. It uses QR codes to show Wikipedia articles to people. Taking advantage of Wikipedia‚Äôs multilingual content, the articles are cleverly shown in the user’s own language (because your phone already knows what language you prefer).
  • The GLAM Toolset that is being developed in conjunction with Europeana for the Wikimedia Commons.
  • Wikidata, which is an ambitious project to centralize reference data for use in all languages of the Wikimedia projects. There is an obvious place, I think, for library authority data in Wikdata, so I encourage you all to watch this project!

Karen Weiss speaks to a packed crowd at Wikipedia Loves Libraries

Thanks to our presenters, Q Miceli, Karen Weiss, Richard Knipel and Bob Kosovsky, and to the George Washington University Libraries for hosting us. Thanks also to the 75 attendees — we seemed to be evenly split between librarians and Wikipedians, which was a terrific thing.

Scan and Deliver… on Wikipedia!

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012 by Jennifer

I just learned from Max – our Wikipedian in Residence – that NARA (the US National Archives) is postings scans of archives on request and putting them up on Wikipedia. This pilot project is my new favorite creative experiment to maximize access to archives. The project page includes links to digitized images, with crowd-sourced transcriptions. Check out the example of a George Washington letter posted and transcribed. There’s a list of scans NARA has posted and the queue of requests.

What a creative experiment delivering digital images! I wish I known about it when Dennis and I were chatting on YouTube about scanning and photography in special collections.

Wikimania, the video(s)

Monday, July 16th, 2012 by Merrilee

I’m going to write a longer summary soon, but I thought I would share these videos that Max and I did at Wikimania. In the videos, we reflect on the event at “halftime” (on Friday) at at the close of the event (Sunday).