She Persisted – Outcomes of ‘Bragging Writes’ Wikipedia event for International Women’s Day 2017

by Lafayette (Lafayette Ltd), half-plate film negative, 3 February 1928
Suffragist and journalist Helen Alexander Archdale. Pic by Lafayette (Lafayette Ltd), half-plate film negative, 3 February 1928

As part of Gather Festival 2017 and to mark International Women’s Day, on Wednesday 8th March 2017, the University’s Information Services team ran a Wikipedia edit-a-thon at the School of Informatics. Full Wikipedia editing training was given to attendees before the afternoon’s editathon focused on creating new articles about the many inspiring women missing from Wikipedia.

In November 2014, just over 15% of the English Wikipedia’s biographies were about women. Founded in July 2015, WikiProject Women in Red has brought the figure up to 16.83%, as of 29 January 2017. But that means, according to WHGI, only 242,601 of our 1,441,879 biographies are about women. Not impressed? “Content gender gap” is a form of systemic bias, and Women in Red events take place across the globe in order to address it in a positive way.

Screengrab of latest WHGI stats.
Screengrab of latest WHGI stats.

 

Mary Susan McIntosh (1936–2013) sociologist, feminist, political activist and campaigner for lesbian and gay rights in the UK.
Mary Susan McIntosh (1936–2013) sociologist, feminist, political activist and campaigner for lesbian and gay rights in the UK.

Outcomes – New pages created

  • Helen Alexander Archdale – (1876–1949) was a feminist, activist, and journalist. Helen took part in a WSPU demonstration in Edinburgh on the 9th of October 1909. Later that month she was arrested with Adela Pankhurst and Maud Joachim in Dundee and convicted of a breach of the peace after interrupting a meeting being held by the local MP, Winston Churchill. Following this on 20th October all three women went on hunger strike. All three were released after four days of imprisonment. In December 1911 Helen received a sentence of two months’ imprisonment for window-breaking at Whitehall.  Her daughter, Betty Archdale (1907-2000) remembered collecting stones for her mother to use, and visiting her in Holloway Prison. Helen was the secretary, and later international secretary, for the Six Point Group founded by Margaret Rhondda. The group’s specific aims were: (1) Satisfactory legislation on child assault; (2) Satisfactory legislation for the widowed mother; (3) Satisfactory legislation for the unmarried mother and her child; (4) Equal rights of guardianship for married parents; (5) Equal pay for teachers; (6) Equal opportunities for men and women in the civil service. In 1926 Helen and Margaret founded the Open Door Council with Chrystal Macmillan and Elizabeth Abbott in order to focus on economic emancipation. In 1927 Helen became active in international feminist activism, and began working in Geneva lobbying for an Equal Rights Treaty at the League of Nations in the early 1930s. She became secretary of the Liaison Committee of Women’s International Organisations, a coalition to promote equal rights, disarmament and women’s representation at the League. From 1929 to 1934 she chaired Equal Rights International, founded at The Hague ,an organisation dedicated to promoting campaigning for equality of women with men in law and in the workplace. Helen was also active in Open Door International, also founded in 1929, and a leading advocate of the equalitarian feminism.
  • Agnes Syme Macdonald (1882 – 1996) was a Scottish suffragette who served as the secretary of the Edinburgh branch of the WSPU before setting up the Edinburgh Women Citizens Association (WCA) in 1918[1]. She was WCA’s fist and longest-serving secretary. She campaigned on various social issues and was active in the Quaker relief work for European refugees (Society of Friends); the Barns School for delinquent city boys and the Edinburgh Old People’s Welfare Council.
  • Catherine Isabella Barmby – (1816/17 – 26 December 1853) was an utopian socialist and writer on women’s emancipation. She was the daughter of Bridstock Watkins and belonged to the lower-middle class. Little is known of her early life or education, however, her instruction allowed her to become a writer and lecturer. She wrote several articles for the Owenite socialist newspaper New Moral World on feminist demands and her Millennialist beliefs.
  • Ketaki Kushari Dyson – (nee Ketaki Kushari) is a Bengali-born poet, novelist, playwright, translator and critic, diaspora writer and scholar. Born (26 June 1940) and educated in Calcutta (Kolkata), she has lived most of her adult life near Oxford, U.K. She writes in Bengali and English, on topics as wide-ranging as Bengal, England, the various Diaspora, feminism and women’s issues, cultural assimilation, multiculturalism, gastronomy, social and political topics.
  • Mary Susan McIntosh (1936–2013) sociologist, feminist, political activist and campaigner for lesbian and gay rights in the UK. In 1960 Mary was deported from the USA for speaking out against the House Un-American Activities Committee. On her return to the UK Mary worked as a researcher for the Home Office from 1961 to 1963 before taking up the post of lecturer in Sociology at the University of Leicester from 1963 to 1968. Mary joined the University of Essex in 1975 as a lecturer in the Department of Sociology, she later became the first female head of the department and remained at the University until she retired in 1996. Throughout her career Mary taught a wide range of courses covering criminology, theory, sociology, social policy, the family, gender studies, feminism and Marxism.
  • Mira Hamermesh (15 July 1923 – 19 February 2012) was an independent Polish filmmaker and artist who made documentaries for British television. She was a student of painting at the Bezalel Art School in Jerusalem and later moved to London to study at the Slade School of Art. Mira returned to Poland in 1960 to study at the polish film school where she began documenting her personal experience of fleeing Nazi occupied Germany as a Jewish teenager.
  • Mary Elizabeth Phillips (suffragette) (15 July 1880 – 21 June 1969) was a suffragette, feminist and socialist. Mary was the longest serving suffragette prisoner.
  • Mona Wilson (author) (29 May 1872 – 26 October 1954) was a British civil servant and author. After being appointed to the National Insurance Commission in 1911, she received a yearly salary of £1000, making her the highest-paid woman civil servant of the time and one of the first women to receive equal pay. She wrote several scholarly works after her retirement from the civil service in 1919, including The Life of William Blake (1927), which went through several reprintings and remained popular for several decades.
  • Maggie Keswick Jencks (10 October 1941- 8 July 1995[1]) was a writer, artist, garden designer and co-founder of Maggie’s Centres.
  • Kathleen Molyneux Mander (29th September 1915 − 2013) was a documentary film-maker. During the 1930s she joined the Communist Party and attended Left Book Club meetings. Her political leanings would later influence her filmmaking. In 1937 she was the first woman to join the film industry’s union, the Association of Cinematographic Technicians (ACT) (now BECTU). She had a column in the ACT journal, The Cine-Technician, until the 1950s, where she wrote union issues such as the need for equal pay and post-war job security. After the end of WW2 her membership of the Communist party made it more difficult for her to find work.
  • Emilia Vosnesenskaya – Vosnesenskaya taught Russian at the Joint Services School for Linguists. She became a naturalised British citizen on January 1st 1957 at which point she was an Assistant University Lecturer. She moved to the University of Edinburgh in 1956 and taught there until her retirement. She contributed to the BBC series Keep Up Your Russian, and associated grammar booklet, in 1960.
  • Kay Carmichael (née Rankin) born Shettleston, Glasgow on 22 November 1925. She was an influential character in Scottish politics and activist against nuclear submarines in Scotland. Studying at Edinburgh University she went on to hold the post of Senior Lecturer at Glasgow University. At the age of 20 she joined the Independent Labour Party in Scotland. Her activism included ‘guerrilla raids’ into Faslane Naval Base to plants flowers for which she was sentenced to two weeks in prison.
  • Şükûfe Nihal Başar – (1896 – 24 September 1973) was a Turkish educator, poet and activist who took part in the earliest women’s liberation movements during Turkey’s nation building process. Having graduated from the Geography department of the Literature Faculty of İstanbul Darülfünün in 1919, she holds the title of “the first woman graduate of Darülfünun”. Whilst she worked as a literature tutor for many years in Istanbul High School for girls, she took active role in various women’s associations and wrote columns in journals and newspapers about women’s rights. In her short stories and novels, she highligts the female female characters, trying to be the voice for “the new woman” of the early republican era.
  • Elizabeth Burns (poet) – (1957-2015) was a poet and creative writing teacher. She was born on 17 December 1957, in Wisbech, Isle of Ely, Cambridgeshire. Her mother Muriel (Hayward) was from Bristol and her father, David Grieve Burns from Kirkcaldy.
  • Lucrezia Buti (Florence, 1435 – sixteenth century) was an Italian nun, and later the lover of the painter Fra Filippo Lippi. She is believed to be the model for several of Lippi’s madonnas.
Women in Red - articles that are red-linked on Wikipedia are ones awaiting creation. Only 16.85% of biographies on Wikipedia are about notable women.
Women in Red – articles that are red-linked on Wikipedia are ones awaiting creation. Only 16.85% of biographies on Wikipedia are about notable women.
We Can Edit
We Can Edit

A Storify of the day can be found here.

History of Medicine 2017 – Outcomes

For the third year running, the University of Edinburgh’s Information Services division hosted a ‘History of Medicine’ Wikipedia event; to celebrate the lives & contributions of women in medicine, over sixty years of Nursing Studies & seventy-five years of the Polish School of Medicine. Over the course of two afternoons at the Surgeons’ Hall Museums, we unravelled myths, discovered truths, created new pages & re-wrote existing Wikipedia pages of Scotland’s famous, and infamous, medical figures including gruesome body-snatcher William Burke.

Facial reconstruction of William Burke
Facial reconstruction of William Burke

We were also fortunate to be graced by some excellent guest speakers:

  • Iain MacIntyre – The Scottish and British Societies of the History of Medicine
  • Alice Doyle – The Lothian Health Services Archive
  • Steve Sturdy – The History of Medicine
  • Janet Philp – Uncovering Burke and Hare
  • David Wright – An Illustrated History of Scottish Medicine – the inside story
  • Daisy Cunynghame – The Royal College of Physicians

Articles improved

  • Burke and Hare murders – Image added of facial reconstruction of William Burke. William Burke’s place of birth added as Orrey from his confession. Other corrections made to the article e.g. date of birth and removing the surname Croswhaite from Joseph as no citation and not found in other material.
  • John Barclay (anatomist) – An eminent Scottish comparative anatomist, extramural teacher in anatomy, and director of the Highland Society of Scotland. New paragraph added on Barclay’s candidacy for the chair of comparative anatomy. Further information on Barclay’s Life and organisation.
  • Leith Hospital – 21 paragraphs added.
  • Thomas Keith (doctor) – Added Early life, photographic career, surgical career. A Victorian surgeon and amateur photographer from Scotland. He developed and improved the wax paper process and his photographs are recognised for their composition and use of shade. He was an early practitioner of the operation of ovariotomy (ovarian cystectomy) where his published results were amongst the best in the world.
  • Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service – Infobox added and relocated images.
  • Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia – 3 paragraphs added. The Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia was a medical guide consisting of recipes and methods for making medicine. It was first published by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in 1699 as the Pharmacopoea Collegii Regii Medicorum Edimburgensium. The Edinburgh Pharmacopeia merged with the London and Dublin Pharmacopoeia’s in 1864 creating the British Pharmacopoeia.
  • Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh – more information about the future of the hospital added and the various buildings on the current site.
  • Infobox added to Hanna Segal – British psychoanalyst and a follower of Melanie Klein. She was president of the British Psychoanalytical Society, vice-president of the International Psychoanalytical Association, and was appointed to the Freud Memorial Chair at University College, London (UCL) in 1987. James Grotstein considered that “Received wisdom suggests that she is the doyen of “classical” Kleinian thinking and technique.”
  • Information added about the Polish School of Medicine to the article about Francis Albert Eley Crew – English animal geneticist. He was a pioneer in his field leading to Edinburgh’s place as a world leader in the science of animal genetics. He was the first Director of the Institute of Animal Breeding and the first Professor of Animal Genetics. He is said to have laid the foundations of medical genetics.
  • Small amendments and a new Publications section added to Douglas Guthrie – Scottish medical doctor, otolaryngologist and historian of medicine.

Articles created

  • Rebecca Strong – English nurse who pioneered preliminary training for nurses.
  • Kate Hermann – the first female neurology consultant in Scotland. Hermann, who was Jewish, left with her family from Hamburg to London in 1937, fleeing the Nazis. She then moved, in 1938, to Edinburgh to study at the Royal Infirmary under Professor Norman Dott.
  • Anne_Ferguson (physician) – Scottish physician, clinical researcher and expert in inflammatory bowel disease. She was educated at Notre Dame School and The University of Glasgow, graduating with a first class honours degree in Physiology, and winning the Brunton Medal. In 1975 she was appointed as a Senior Lecturer at The University of Edinburgh, also becoming a Consultant at the Gastrointestinal Unit at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh. In 1987 she was appointed to a personal professorship in gastroenterology, and was honoured by election as a Fellow to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1990.
  • Ethel Moir – WW1 nurse with the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service.
  • The Polish School of Medicine – Terrific new illustrated 2200 word article.
  • Henryk Podlewski – Polish doctor who completed his studies at the Polish School of Medicine at the University of Edinburgh during World War II and became the first Psychiatrist to practice in the Bahamas.
  • Nancy Loudon – Scottish gynaecologist. She devoted her professional life to pioneering and ensuring provision of family planning and well woman services. As such she was a fore-runner in what is now the specialty of ‘community gynaecology’. This article is now translated on to the Italian Wikipedia.
  • Krystyna Magdalena Munk – a Polish doctor who completed her studies at the Polish School of Medicine at the University of Edinburgh during World War II.
  • Elizabeth Wilson (doctor) – Family Planning Doctor and Right-to-Die campaigner. She founded the 408 Clinic, and FATE (Friends at the End) in 2000.

Other outcomes and coverage

And this was all despite Storm Doris trying to throw a spanner in the works!

Wikimedia- on the edge of OER17

The 2017 Open Educational Resources Conference (OER17) will be held at Resource for London on the 5th and 6th April. The conference theme is “The Politics of Open” and has never been more timely. Registration closes 16th March so don’t delay.

Once again, there is a strong presence of people associated with Wikimedia UK, as well as other Wikimedians. As Wikipedia edges towards 17 years old and we get ever closer to OER17, here’s a look at the presentations coming up from Wikimedia – on the edge of OER17.

Stevie Nicks. By User:SandyMac [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Stevie Nicks. By User:SandyMac [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
(Sadly there will be no Stevie Nicks.)

  • The conference is co-chaired by Wikimedia UK trustee Josie Fraser and Creative Commons Poland co-founder Alek Tarkowski.
  • Wikimedia UK Chief Executive Lucy Crompton-Reid is one of the keynote speakers.
    Lucy Crompton-Reid (CEO Wikimedia UK) – By Simoncromptonreid (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
    Lucy Crompton-Reid has a career in the cultural, voluntary and public sectors spanning two decades, with a strong emphasis on leading and developing participatory practice and promoting marginalised voices. As Chief Executive of Wikimedia UK since October 2015, she has led the development of a new strategy focused on eradicating inequality and bias on Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects, with an emphasis on the gender gap and geographic bias. In the past year Lucy has given talks on equality and diversity at the Open Data Institute, Open Source Convention and MozFest, and recently spearheaded an international partnership between Wikimedia UK, Wikimedia communities around the world and the BBC, focused on closing the gender gap on Wikipedia. Lucy will be presenting: “Open as inclusive: Equality and Diversity on Wikimedia” at OER17.
  • Sara Mörtsell, Education Manager of WikimediaSE, will present on “How openness in mainstream K-12 education can advance with Wikimedia and GLAMs in Sweden” – This proposal addresses how mainstream K-12 education can transition to use and share open educational resources and play a part in the future direction of the open educational movement (Weller 2014). The presentation is based on practical experience of a one year OER project in 2016 with 230 students in K-12 education from both minority and dominant communities in the city of Stockholm.
    Sara Mörtsell. Pic by Jonatan Svensson Glad [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
    Sara Mörtsell. Pic by Jonatan Svensson Glad [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Stefan Lutschinger, an academic and Wikipedia Campus Ambassador at Middlesex University, will present on “Open Pedagogy and Student Wellbeing: Academic Confidence Building with Wikipedia Assignments“. Stefan’s talk talk will introduce the use of Wikipedia assignments in higher education, present a case study, discuss its benefits for students’ academic confidence building and propose a framework for evaluation and critical reflection. The evidence is based on the compulsory course module (level 6) ‘MED3040 Publishing Cultures’ of the BA (Hons) Creative Writing and Journalism degree programme at Middlesex University, Department of Media, developed in cooperation with Wikimedia UK and the Wiki Education Foundation.
  • Me in Mallaig after walking the West Highland Way and riding the Harry Potter train.
    Ewan McAndrew – Wikimedian in Residence at the University of Edinburgh (Own work CC-BY-SA)

    Ewan McAndrew, Wikimedian In Residence at the University of Edinburgh, is delivering a presentation on “Lo and Behold: Reveries of a Connected Campus: Reflections from the Wikimedian in Residence at the University of Edinburgh”.  While there have been previous Wikimedia residencies based in UK cultural institutions focussing on opening up collections, five years have now passed since Grathwohl (2011) acclaimed Wikipedia had ‘come of age’ in formal education settings with Wikipedia still representing the oft-ignored “elephant in the room (Brox, 2012). Hosting a Wikimedian at a Higher Education institution to embed the creation of OER in the curriculum does therefore represent something of a shift in the paradigm. This presentation discusses one such residency and the lessons learnt from the first 15 months.

  • The artwork "Een vertaling van de ene taal naar de andere" / "A Translation from one language to another" by Lawrence Weiner. Placed in 1996 at the Spui (square) in Amsterdam. It consists of three pairs of two stones placed against each other. On each stone there is an inscription "A Translation from one language to another", in another language - Dutch, English, Surinam and Arabic. Author: brbbl (CC-BY-SA)
    The artwork “Een vertaling van de ene taal naar de andere” / “A Translation from one language to another” by Lawrence Weiner. Author: brbbl (CC-BY-SA)

    Ewan will also be giving a lightning talk on “Building bridges not walls – Wikipedia’s new Content Translation tool”. Wikipedia’s new Content Translation tool offers an impactful means of sharing open knowledge globally between languages as it brings up an article on one side of the screen in one language and helps translate it, paragraph by paragraph, to create the article in a different language taking all the formatting across to the new article so a native speaker just has to check to make sure the translation is as good as it can be. This presentation will outline the successful models already employed in a Higher Education context.

  • Martin Poulter By Ziko (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
    Martin Poulter By Ziko (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
    Martin Poulter, Wikimedian In Residence at the University of Oxford, is giving a presentation on “Putting Wikipedia and Open Practice into the mainstream in a University”. OER Conference attendees are often part of a minority group of Open Education advocates in their institutions, and it is a hard challenge to change wider institutional policy and culture. This presentation will share lessons learned from experience in a UK university, using Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects as well as Open Access research publication as levers to encourage an open approach to education. The drive towards open access to the outputs of research, and open access to the collections of cultural institutions, are potentially powerful drivers for the creation of open educational content. This session explores how to push academic culture in that direction.
  • #1Lib1Ref - 1 Librarian adding 1 Reference
    Citation (desperately) needed. #PoliticsOfOpen

    Ewan and Martin are jointly giving a lightning talk on “Citation Needed: Digital Provenance in the era of Post-Truth Politics“.This session covers why the most important frontier of Wikipedia is not its content but its 30 million plus citations (Orlowitz, 2016) and the latest developments behind the WikiCite project after its first year. The WikiCite initiative is to build a repository of all Wikimedia citations and bibliographic metadata in Wikidata to serve all Wikimedia projects. The ultimate goal to make Wikipedia’s citations as “reliable, open, accessible, structured, linked and free as our Knowledge is.”(Orlowitz, 2016)

  • Gamifying Wikimedia - Learning through play (Pic from Ada Lovelace Day 2016 at the University of Edinburgh - own work CC-BY-SA).
    Gamifying Wikimedia – Learning through play (Pic from Ada Lovelace Day 2016 at the University of Edinburgh – own work CC-BY-SA).

    Ewan and Martin will also be running a workshop on “Gamifying Wikimedia – Learning through Play (Workshop)“. This workshop will demonstrate that crowd-sourcing contributions to Wikimedia’s family of Open Education projects does not have to involve a heavy time component and that short fun, enjoyable activities can be undertaken which enhance the opportunities for teaching & learning and the dissemination of open knowledge. Participants will be guided through a series of Wikimedia tools; running through the purpose of each tool, how they can be used to support open education alongside practical demos.

  • Wikimedia UK volunteer Navino Evans is giving a workshop on “Histropedia – Building an open interactive history of everything with Wikimedia content“.
    By Wittylama (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
    Navino Evans and Histropedia. Pic by Wittylama (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
    Histropedia is a web application aiming to create free interactive timelines on every topic in history using open data from Wikimedia projects like Wikidata, Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons.All Histropedia timelines are published under an open licence, which means they can be reused and remixed for any purpose, both within Histropedia and elsewhere on the web. Tools like Histropedia provide an incentive for donating text, data and images to Wikimedia projects, as it can instantly be visualised in exciting ways without incurring any cost.
    Histropedia timeline of University of Edinburgh female alumni; colour-coded by place of birth and with language labels in Japanese, Russian, Arabic and English.
    Histropedia timeline of University of Edinburgh female alumni; colour-coded by place of birth and with language labels in Japanese, Russian, Arabic and English.

    It also shows how data becomes more valuable when it’s open, as it can be combined and compared with other data in a way that is not possible when kept in isolation. It’s our hope that Histropedia can play a role in getting more educational institutions to engage with Wikimedia content and other open resources, as well as inspire others to build innovative applications on top of the wealth of free knowledge that’s available. In this workshop, we will learn how to use Histropedia by completing a sequence of practical exercises to find, combine and improve content.

  • Alice White, Wikimedian in Residence at the Wellcome Library, will also in attendance running a Wikimedia session in the Lewis Suite.
    Alice White- By Zeromonk (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
    Alice White- By Zeromonk (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
    Something for everyone there. Look forward to seeing you there!

Seeing the links at the ‘Celtic Knot’ – Wikipedia Language Conference

By David J. Fred [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
Tying the Celtic Knot. Pic by David J. Fred [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

The first ‘Celtic Knot’ – Wikipedia Language Conference will take place 5 & 6 July 2017 at the University of Edinburgh in collaboration with Wikimedia UK. This Wikimedia event will focus on Celtic Languages and Indigenous Languages, showcasing innovative approaches to open education, open knowledge and open data that support and grow language communities.

Following some enquiries, the criteria for submissions is that presentations and workshops should be:

Presenters should therefore make it very clear how their presentation will be of interest to this audience.

CC-BY-SA (Own work)
CC-BY-SA (Own work)

To assist with seeing the connections and areas of commonality between your work and the Celtic Knot conference please read the below guide to the Wikimedia projects:

The Celtic Knot conference is jointly supported by the University of Edinburgh and Wikimedia UK.

Wikimedia UK logo
Wikimedia UK logo

Wikimedia UK is the registered charity that supports and promotes Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects, and the volunteers who write, edit and curate the content of the projects.

Our mission is to help people and organisations create and preserve open knowledge and to provide easy access for all. We support the widest possible public access to, use of and contribution to open content of an encyclopaedic or educational nature.

  • Culture: We work closely with cultural institutions, including galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAMs) to help them realise the potential of openly-licensed content for public benefit.
  • Education: Wikipedia is more than a reference work. All over the world people and institutions are exploring the ways that Wikipedia can be used as a formal education tool. It belongs in education.
  • Volunteers: The Wikimedia projects are written, edited and curated by volunteers who are just like you. There are many ways to get involved – there are activities to suit the interests of everybody. You can also become a member of the charity.
Wikimedia's family of Open Knowledge projects
Wikimedia’s family of Open Knowledge projects

 

Wikimedia’s family of Open Knowledge projects include:

  • Wikipedia: the free online encyclopaedia exists in each Celtic and Indigenous language and Wikipedia’s new Content Translation tool allows articles to be translated easily between different language Wikipedias.
  • Wikimedia Commons: a media file repository making available public domain and freely-licensed educational media content (images, sound and video clips) to everyone, in their own language.
  • Wikidata is a free and open knowledge base that can be read and edited by both humans and machines. Wikidata acts as central storage for the structured data of its Wikimedia sister projects and many other sites and services beyond. Wikidata can connect other databases and collections of information, allowing computers and software to see connections between hundreds of data sources. GLAM institutions (galleries, libraries, archives and museums) realise that their collections become more useful and reusable when they are deeply interlinked with other collections around the world. Creating open structured data for their collections increases their impact on the public.
  • WikisourceThe Free Library – is a multilingual project to create a growing free content library of OCR-ed source texts, as well as translations of source texts in any language including constitutional documents, court rulings, plays, poems, songs, novels, short stories, letters, travel writing, speeches, obituaries, news articles and more.
  • Wiktionary, a collaborative project to produce a free-content multilingual dictionary.
  • Wikibooks is a multilingual project for collaboratively writing open-content textbooks that anyone can edit including textbooks, annotated texts, instructional guides, and manuals. These materials can be used in a traditional classroom, an accredited or respected institution, a home-school environment or for self-learning.
  • Wikivoyage—a multilingual, web-based project to create a free, complete, up-to-date, and reliable worldwide travel guide.

In addition, the Wiki Education Foundation connects secondary & higher education to the publishing power of Wikipedia. Bridging Wikipedia and academia creates opportunities for any learner to contribute to, and access, open knowledge. We cultivate deeper learning for students as they expand Wikipedia articles for course assignments. We work with libraries to expand the public’s access to their resources. We support academic associations as they expand and improve Wikipedia’s coverage of their field.

Presentations and workshops must therefore be:

If you can see a clear commonality between your work and the projects above then we welcome diverse attendees and presenters working in Celtic and Indigenous languages ranging from Wikimedians, educators, researchers, information professionals, media professionals, linguists, translators, learning technologists and more coming together to share good practice and find fruitful new collaborations to support language communities as a result of the event.

However, presentations should ultimately make it very clear how their presentation will be of interest to the Wikimedia audience.

If you believe this applies to you then we are asking people to save the date, and suggest ideas no longer than 100-200 words maximum showcasing the best of your work which satisfy the above criteria. Submitted ideas which already explicitly address this criteria need not resubmit.

Session types available

  • Presentations (15 minute talks with 5 mins Q&A).
  • Lightning talks (5-7 mins)
  • Workshops (30 or 60 minute workshops)
  • Discussion spaces.

Your suggestion should indicate which session type you are proposing, how the proposal meets the criteria and which conference theme it addresses.

Conference Themes

  • Building language confidence: participation, public engagement & social equality.
  • Putting our language on the map: preserving & opening up our cultural heritage.
  • Languages on the road to open: ongoing or new projects and initiatives in open knowledge, open education and open data.
  • The politics of language: Local, national, and international policy and practice; advocacy for funding, institutional and community support and investment
  • Hacking; making; sharing

Please email your session proposal to ewan.mcandrew@ed.ac.uk indicating the session type, conference theme and how it meets the Wikimedia criteria by no later than Friday 17th March 2017.

We are not in a post-fact world: Wikipedia vs. claims of fake news

We are not in a post truth world
We are not in a post truth world – Screengrab of Wikimedia’s “We are not in a post-fact world” video by Victor Grigas, CC-BY-SA).

A question on the ‘virtual generation’: “Friends live with their computers rather than their brothers and sisters. All they do all day is use social networks to stay in touch, play online games with people around the world, and download (sometimes illegally) their favourite music and films.  Is this an exaggeration? Should we, as information professionals and custodians of the information society, worry?” (Hyatt, University of Northumbria, 2016)

We are not in a post-fact world: Wikipedia vs. ‘fake’ news

We live in the information age and the aphorism ‘one who possess information possesses the world’ of course reflects the present-day reality.”

(Vladimir Putin in Interfax, 2016).

 

What are we to make of the ‘post-truth’ landscape we supposedly now inhabit; where traditional mass media appears to be distrusted and waning in its influence over the public sphere (Tufeckzi in Viner, 2016) while the secret algorithms’ of search engines & social media giants dominate instead? The new virtual agora (Silverstone in Weichert, 2016) of the internet creates new opportunities for democratic citizen journalism but also has been shown to create chaotic ‘troll’ culture & maelstroms of information overload. Therefore, the new ‘virtual generation’ inhabiting this post-fact world must attempt to navigate fake content, sponsored content and content filtered to match their evolving digital identity to somehow arrive safely at a common truth. Should we be worried what this all means in ‘the information age’?

Higher Education in the Information Age

Facebook defines who we are, Amazon defines what we want

and Google defines what we think.”

(Broeder, 2016)

The information age is defined as “the shift from traditional industry that the Industrial Revolution brought through industrialization, to an economy based on computerization or digital revolution” (Toffler in Korjus, 2016). There are now 3 billion internet users on our planet, well over a third of humanity (Graham et al, 2015). Global IP traffic is estimated to treble over the next 5 years (Chaudhry, 2016) and a hundredfold for the period 2005 to 2020 overall. This internet age still wrestles with both geographically & demographically uneven coverage while usage in no way equates to users being able to safely navigate, or indeed, to critically evaluate the information they are presented with via its gatekeepers (Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft et al). Tambini (2016) defines these aforementioned digital intermediaries as “software-based institutions that have the potential to influence the flow of online information between providers (publishers) and consumers”. So exactly how conversant are our students & staff with the nature of their relationship with these intermediaries & the role they play in the networks that shape their everyday lives?

Digital intermediaries

Digital intermediaries such as Google and Facebook are seen as the new powerbrokers in online news, controlling access to consumers and with the potential even to suppress and target messages to individuals.” (Tambini, 2016)

 

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg may downplay Facebook’s role as “arbiters of truth” (Seethaman, 2016) in much the same way that Google downplay their role as controllers of the library “card catalogue” (Walker in Toobin, 2015) but both represent the pre-eminent gatekeepers in the information age. 62% of Americans get their news from social media (Mint, 2016) with 44% getting their news from Facebook. In addition, a not insubstantial two million voters were encouraged to register to vote by Facebook, while Facebook’s own 2012 study concluded that it “directly influenced political self-expression, information seeking and real-world voting behaviour of millions of people.” (Seethaman, 2016)

 

image003Figure 1 Bodies of Evidence (The Economist, 2016)

This year has seen assertion after assertion made which bear, upon closer examination by fact-checking organisations such as PolitiFact (see Figure 1 above) absolutely no basis in truth. For the virtual generation, the traditional mass media has come to be treated on a par with new, more egalitarian, social media with little differentiation in how Google lists these results. Clickbait journalism has become the order of the day (Viner, 2016); where outlandish claims can be given a platform as long as they are prefixed with “It is claimed that…”

Now no one even tries proving ‘the truth’. You can just say anything. Create realities.” (Pomerantzev in the Economist, 2016)

The problem of ascertaining truth in the information age can be attributed to three factors:

  1. The controversial line “people in this country have had enough of experts” (Gove in Viner, 2016) during the EU referendum demonstrated there has been a fundamental eroding of trust in, & undermining of, the institutions & ‘expert’ opinions previously looked up to as subject authorities. “We’ve basically eliminated any of the referees, the gatekeepers…There is nobody: you can’t go to anybody and say: ‘Look, here are the facts’” (Sykes in the Economist, 2016)
  2. The proliferation of social media ‘filter bubbles’ which group like-minded users together & filter content to them accordingly to their ‘likes’. In this way, users can become isolated from viewpoints opposite to their own (Duggan, 2016) and fringe stories can survive longer despite being comprehensively debunked elsewhere. In this way, any contrary view tends to be either filtered out or met with disbelief through what has been termed ‘the backfire effect’ (The Economist, 2016).
  3. The New York Times calls this current era an era of data but no facts’ (Clarke, 2016). Data is certainly abundant; 90% of the world’s data was generated in the last two years (Tuffley, 2016). Yet, it has never been more difficult to find ‘truth in the numbers’ (Clarke, 2016) with over 60 trillion pages (Fichter and Wisniewski, 2014) to navigate and terabytes of unstructured data to (mis)interpret.

The way forward

We need to increase the reputational consequences and change the incentives for making false statements… right now, it pays to be outrageous, but not to be truthful.”

(Nyhan in the Economist, 2016)

Since the US election, and President Trump’s continuing assault on the ‘dishonest media’, the need for information to be verified has been articulated as never before with current debates raging on just how large a role Russia, Facebook & fake news played during the US election. Indeed, the inscrutable ‘black boxes’ of Google & Facebook’s algorithms constitute a real dilemma for educators & information professionals.

Reappraising information & media literacy education

The European Commission, the French Conseil d’Etat and the UK Government are all re-examining the role of ‘digital intermediaries’; with OfCom being asked by the UK government to prepare a new framework for assessing the intermediaries’ news distribution & setting regulatory parameters of ‘public expectation’ in place (Tambini, 2016). Yet, Cohen (2016) asserts that there is a need for greater transparency of the algorithms being used in order to provide better oversight of the digital intermediaries. Further, that the current lack of public domain data available in order to assess the editorial control of these digital intermediaries means that until the regulatory environment is strengthened so as to require these ‘behemoths’ (Tambini, 2016) to disclose this data, this pattern of power & influence is likely to remain unchecked.

Somewhere along the line, media literacy does appear to have backfired; our students were told that Google was trustworthy and Wikipedia was not (Boyd, 2016). The question is how clicking on those top five Google results instead of critically engaging with the holistic overview & reliable sources Wikipedia offers is working out?

A lack of privacy combined with a lack of transparency

Further, privacy seems to be the one truly significant casualty of the information age. Broeder (2016) suggests that, as governments focus increasingly on secrecy, at the same time the individual finds it increasingly difficult to retain any notions of privacy. This creates a ‘transparency paradox’ often resulting in a deep suspicion of governments’ having something to hide while the individual is left vulnerable to increasingly invasive legislation such as the UK’s new Investigatory Powers Act – “the most extreme surveillance in the history of Western democracy.” (Snowden in Ashok, 2016). This would be bad enough if their public & private data weren’t already being shared as a “tradeable commodity” (Tuffley, 2016) with companies like Google and Apple, “the feudal overlords of the information society” (Broeder, 2016) and countless other organisations.

The Data Protection Act (1998), Freedom of Information Act (2000) and the Human Rights Act (1998) should give the beleaguered individual succour but FOI requests can be denied if there is a ‘good reason’ to do so, particularly if it conflicts with the Official Secrets Act (1989), and the current government’s stance on the Human Rights Act does not bode well for its long-term survival. The virtual generation will also now all have a digital footprint; a great deal of which can been mined by government & other agencies without our knowing about it or consenting to it. The issue therefore is that a line must be drawn as to our public lives and our private lives. However, this line is increasingly unclear because our use of digital intermediaries blurs this line. In this area, we do have legitimate cause to worry.

The need for a digital code of ethics

  • “Before I do something with this technology, I ask myself, would it be alright if everyone did it?
  • Is this going to harm or dehumanise anyone, even people I don’t know and will never meet?
  • Do I have the informed consent of those who will be affected?” (Tuffley, 2016)

Educating citizens as to the merits of a digital code of ethics like the one above is one thing, and there are success stories in this regard through initiatives such as StaySafeOnline.org but a joined-up approach marrying up librarians, educators and instructional technologists to teach students (& adults) information & digital literacy seems to be reaping rewards according to Wine (2016). While recent initiatives exemplifying the relevance & need for information professionals assisting with political literacy during the Scottish referendum (Smith, 2016) have found further expression in other counterparts (Abram, 2016).

This challenge is not just for school librarians to prepare the next generation to be informed but for all librarians to assist the whole population.” (Abram, 2016)

Trump’s administration may or may not be in ‘chaos’ but recent acts have exposed worrying trends. Trends which reveal an eroding of trust: in the opinions of experts; in the ‘dishonest’ media; in factual evidence; and in the rule of law. Issues at the heart of the information age have been exposed: there exists a glut of information & a sea of data to navigate with little formalised guidance as to how to find our way through it. For the beleaguered individual, this glut makes it near impossible to find ‘truth in the numbers’ while equating one online news source to be just as valid as another, regardless of its credibility, only exacerbates the problem. All this, combined with an increasing lack of privacy and an increasing lack of transparency, makes for a potent combination.

There is a place of refuge you can go, however. A place where facts, not ‘alternate facts’, but actual verifiable facts, are venerated. A place that holds as its central tenets, principles of verifiability, neutral point of view, and transparency above all else. A place where every edit made to a page is recorded, for the life of that page, so you can see what change was made, when & by whom. How many other sites give you that level of transparency where you can check, challenge & correct the information presented if it does hold to the principles of verifiability?

image004

Now consider that this site is the world’s number one information site; visited by 500 million visitors a month and considered, by British people, to be more trustworthy than the BBC, ITV, the Guardian, the Times, the Telegraph according to a 2014 Yougov survey.

image006

While Wikipedia is the fifth most popular website in the world, the other internet giants in the top ten cannot compete with it for transparency; an implicit promise of trust with its users. Some 200+ factors go into constructing how Google’s algorithm determines the top ten results for a search term yet we have no inkling what those factors are or how those all-important top ten search results are arrived at. Contrast this opacity, and Facebook’s for that matter, with Wikimedia’s own (albeit abortive) proposal for a Knowledge Engine (Sentance, 2016); envisaged as the world’s first transparent non-commercial search engine and consider what that transparency might have meant for the virtual generation being able to trust the information they are presented with.

Wikidata (Wikimedia’s digital repository of free, openly-licensed structured data) represents another bright hope. It is already used to power, though not exclusively, many of the answers in Google’s Knowledge Graph without ever being attributed as such.

image009

Wikidata is a free linked database of knowledge that can be read and edited by both humans and machines. It acts as central storage for the structured data of its Wikimedia sister projects including Wikipedia, Wikivoyage, Wikisource, and others. The mission behind Wikidata is clear: if ‘to Google’ has come to stand in for ‘to search’ and “search is the way we now live” (Darnton in Hillis, Petit & Jarrett, 2013, p.5) then ‘to Wikidata’ is ‘to check the digital provenance’. And checking the digital provenance of assertions is pivotal to our suddenly bewildered democracy.

While fact-checking websites exist & more are springing up all the time, Wikipedia is already firmly established as the place where students and staff conduct pre-research on a topic; “to gain context on a topic, to orient themselves, students start with Wikipedia…. In this unique role, it therefore serves as an ideal bridge between the validated and unvalidated Web.” (Grathwohl, 2011)

Therefore, it is vitally important that Wikipedia’s users know how knowledge is constructed & curated and the difference between fact-checked accurate information from reliable sources and information that plainly isn’t.

Knowledge creates understanding – understanding is sorely lacking in today’s world. Behind every article on Wikipedia is a Talk page is a public forum where editors hash it out; from citations, notability to truth.” (Katherine Maher, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, December 2016)

The advent of fake news means that people need somewhere they can turn to where the information is accurate, reliable and trustworthy. Wikipedia editors have been evaluating the validity and reliability of sources and removing those facts not attributed to a reliable published source for years. Therefore engaging staff and students in Wikipedia assignments embeds source evaluation as a core component of the assignment. Recent research by Harvard Business School has also shown that the process of editing Wikipedia has a profound impact on those that participate in it; whereby editors that become involved in the discourse of an article’s creation with a particular slanted viewpoint or bias actually become more moderate over time. This means editing Wikipedia actually de-radicalises its editors as they seek to work towards a common truth. Would that were true of other much more partisan sectors of the internet.

Further, popular articles and breaking news stories are often covered on Wikipedia extremely thoroughly where the focus of many eyes make light work in the construction of detailed, properly cited, accurate articles. And that might just be the best weapon to combat fake news; while one news source in isolation may give one side of a breaking story, Wikipedia often provides a holistic overview of all the news sources available on a given topic.

Wikipedia already has clear policies on transparency, verifiability, and reliable sources. What it doesn’t have is the knowledge that universities have behind closed doors; often separated into silos or in pay-walled repositories. What it doesn’t have is enough willing contributors to meet the demands of the 1.5 billion unique devices that access it each month in ensuring its coverage of the ever-expanding knowledge is kept as accurate, up-to-date & representative of the sum of all knowledge as possible.

This is where you come in.

 

Conclusion

It’s up to other people to decide whether they give it any credibility or not,” (Oakeshott in Viner, 2016)

The truth is out there. But it is up to us to challenge claims and to help verify them. This is no easy task in the information age and it is prone to, sometimes very deliberate, obfuscation. Infoglut has become the new censorship; a way of controlling the seemingly uncontrollable. Fact-checking sites have sprung up in greater numbers but they depend on people seeking them out when convenience and cognitive ease have proven time and again to be the drivers for the virtual generation.

We know that Wikipedia is the largest and most popular reference work on the internet. We know that it is transparent and built on verifiability and neutral point of view. We know that it has been combating fake news for years. So if the virtual generation are not armed with the information literacy education to enable them to critically evaluate the sources they encounter and the nature of the algorithms that mediate their interactions with the world, how then are they to make the informed decisions necessary to play their part as responsible online citizens?

It is the response of our governments and our Higher Education institutions to this last question that is the worry.

image010

Wikimedia at the University of Edinburgh

As the Wikimedia residency at the University of Edinburgh moves into its second year we are looking to build on the success of the first year and work with other course leaders and students both inside and outside the curriculum. Starting small has proven to be a successful methodology but bold approaches like the University of British Columbia’s WikiProject Murder, Madness & Mayhem can also prove extremely successful. Indeed, bespoke solutions can often be found to individual requirements.

 

Time and motivation are the two most frequent cited barriers to uptake. These are undoubted challenges to academics, students & support staff but the experience of this year is that the merits of engagement & an understanding of how Wikipedia assignments & edit-a-thons operate overcome any such concerns in practice. Once understood, Wikipedia can be a powerful tool in an educator’s arsenal. Engagement from course leaders, information professionals and support from the institution itself go a long way to realising that the time & motivation is well-placed.

For educators, engaging with Wikipedia:

  • meets the information literacy & digital literacy needs of our students.
  • enhances learning & teaching in the curriculum
  • helps develop & share knowledge in their subject discipline
  • raises the visibility & impact of research in their particular field.

In this way, practitioners can swap out existing components of their practice in favour of Wikimedia learning activities which develop:

  • Critical information literacy skills
  • Digital literacy
  • Academic writing & referencing
  • Critical thinking
  • Literature review
  • Writing for different audiences
  • Research skills
  • Community building
  • Online citizenship
  • Collaboration.

This all begins with engaging in the conversation.

Wikipedia turned 16 on January 15th 2017. It has long been the elephant in the room in education circles but it is time to articulate that Wikipedia does indeed belong in education and that it plays an important role in our understanding & disseminating of the world’s knowledge. With Oxford University now also hosting their own Wikimedian in Residence on a university-wide remit, it is time also to articulate that this conversation is not going away. Far from it, the information & digital literacy needs of our students and staff will only intensify. Higher Education institutions must need formulate a response. The best thing we can do as educators & information professionals is to be vigilant and to be vocal; articulating both our vision for Open Knowledge & the pressing need for engagement in skills development as a core part of the university’s mission and give our senior managers something they can say ‘Yes’ to.

If you would like to find out more then feel free to contact me at ewan.mcandrew@ed.ac.uk

  • Want to become a Wikipedia editor?
  • Want to become a Wikipedia trainer?
  • Want to run a Wikipedia course assignment?
  • Want to contribute images to Wikimedia Commons?
  • Want to contribute your research to Wikipedia?
  • Want to contribute your research data to Wikidata?

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Save the date! Celtic Knot conference at Edinburgh University 5 & 6 July

By AnonMoos [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By AnonMoos [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

‘Celtic Knot’ conference

A collaboration between Wikimedia UK and the University of Edinburgh

10am to 5pm on 5th and 6th July 2017

University of Edinburgh Business School.

If you want to know what’s important to a culture, learn their language.” Joanne Harris

This Wikimedia UK event will focus on Celtic Languages and Indigenous Languages, showcasing innovative approaches to open education, open knowledge and open data that support and grow language communities.

Identifying ways in which our cultural heritage can be not just preserved but, as living languages, engaged with and expanded on so as to enrich the linguistic map of the British Isles and beyond through a cross-pollination of ideas & knowledge exchange.

Building bridges between communities, this event seeks diverse participants who will share their practice and discover fruitful new collaborations.

Please save the dates. Call for session proposals has now been extended until Friday 17th March 2017.

CC-BY-SA (Own work)
Celtic Knot Conference CC-BY-SA (Own work)

If you are interested in attending the event or can help forward this event to interested colleagues in your network then please let me know by contacting ewan.mcandrew@ed.ac.uk.

At this time we are asking people to save the date, and suggest ideas (no longer than 100-200 words); showcasing the best of your work and linking in with your ideas & suggestions for speakers, keynotes & sessions:

  • Presentations (15 minute talks with 5 mins Q&A).
  • Lightning talks (5-7 mins)
  • Workshops (30 or 60 minute workshops)
  • Discussion spaces.

Conference Themes

  • Building language confidence: participation, public engagement & social equality.
  • Putting our language on the map: preserving & opening up our cultural heritage.
  • Languages on the road to open: ongoing or new projects and initiatives in open knowledge, open education and open data.
  • The politics of language: Local, national, and international policy and practice; advocacy for funding, institutional and community support and investment
  • Hacking; making; sharing

All presentations and discussions are encouraged to be as engaging and interactive as possible and facilitate learning and sharing by the attendees.

Following enquiries, the criteria for submissions is that presentations/workshops should be:

Therefore, any proposals should make it very clear how their presentation will be of interest to this audience.

To assist with seeing links with the Wikimedia projects you can click here.

Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.
‒Rita Mae Brown

If you have an idea for a session then email me your proposal indicating the session type, conference theme and how your proposal meets the Wikimedia criteria at ewan.mcandrew@ed.ac.uk no later than Friday 17th March 2017.

12 months at the University of Edinburgh – Reflections on the 1st year

12 months at the University of Edinburgh
12 months at the University of Edinburgh
Two similar missions - Wikimedia UK and the University of Edinburgh
Two similar missions – Wikimedia UK and the University of Edinburgh

Wikimedia residency at the University of Edinburgh

Since January 2016, Wikimedia UK and the University of Edinburgh partnered to host a Wikimedian in Residence for 12 months. While previous residencies have focused on releasing collections openly from GLAM institutions (galleries, libraries, archives & museums), the Edinburgh residency marks the first in the UK in supporting the whole university with a focus on skills development & furthering knowledge exchange.

This first foray at working in partnership across the whole university has been a productive one (as this infographic handily illustrates). To date, the residency has delivered 34 training sessions and run 12 editathons. From the outset, the editathon model proved to be a great vehicle for students, staff & members of the public from all different disciplines to come together to learn how to edit Wikipedia and to share knowledge openly.

Janet Anne Galloway. (1841–1909) advocate for higher education for women in Scotland, supporter of the Glasgow Association for the Higher Education of Women and secretary of Queen Margaret College. CC-BY-SA
Janet Anne Galloway. (1841–1909) advocate for higher education for women in Scotland, supporter of the Glasgow Association for the Higher Education of Women and secretary of Queen Margaret College.
CC-BY-SA (The Wikipedia page did not exist till our own Lorna Campbell sat down and wrote it. How many more are missing?)

The university also has a commitment to Athena SWAN so one key focus from this year has been addressing the gender gap on Wikipedia and thereby creating more female role models for young & old alike. While the gender gap is still very real, it is enormously encouraging that 65% of our 437 attendees last year were female and that, through editathons focused on targeted themes (Women in Espionage, Women in STEM, Women in Art, Women and Religion) and the incredible work of WikiProject Women in Red, the number of biographies of notable females on Wikipedia is moving in the right direction, up from just over 15% to almost 16.83% as of 29th January 2017. (Call me ambitious but I’d like us to aim for 20.18% in 2018).

The residency was always going to be as much about people as process and the collaborations we have achieved this year have come about organically through one successful collaboration begetting another. Over the course of the last twelve months, I have met with a great many course leaders across the university’s three teaching colleges and the conversations have all been extremely fruitful in terms of understanding what each side needs to ensure a successful Wikipedia in the Classroom assignment and for lowering the threshold for engagement with Wikipedia; both now and in the future. With this in mind, we have piloted three Wikipedia components in online courses (the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, the Online History MSc and the Intellectual Humility MOOC) and supported three Wikipedia in the Classroom assignments which have now been written up as case studies :

The artwork "Een vertaling van de ene taal naar de andere" / "A Translation from one language to another" by Lawrence Weiner. Placed in 1996 at the Spui (square) in Amsterdam. It consists of three pairs of two stones placed against each other. On each stone there is an inscription "A Translation from one language to another", in another language - Dutch, English, Surinam and Arabic. Author: brbbl (CC-BY-SA)
The artwork “Een vertaling van de ene taal naar de andere” / “A Translation from one language to another” by Lawrence Weiner. Placed in 1996 at the Spui (square) in Amsterdam. It consists of three pairs of two stones placed against each other. On each stone there is an inscription “A Translation from one language to another”, in another language – Dutch, English, Surinam and Arabic. Author: brbbl (CC-BY-SA)

Translation Studies MSc  – 28 students have completed the translation of a Wikipedia article of not less than 4000 words into a different language Wikipedia last semester using Wikipedia’s new Content Translation tool as part of the Independent Study module of their programme. The students are to repeat the assignment this semester, improving their practise from last semester & reversing the language direction so that it really is a two-way knowledge exchange.

Women-and-Relgion-Edit-a-thon at New College. Photo by Dr Alexander Chow. CC-BY-SA
Women-and-Relgion-Edit-a-thon at New College. Photo by Dr Alexander Chow. CC-BY-SA

World Christianity MSc students undertook an 11 week Wikipedia assignment as part of the Selected Themes in the Study of World Christianity class. This core course offers candidates the opportunity to study in depth Christian history, thought and practice in and from Africa, Asia and Latin America. The assignment comprised of writing a new article, following a literature review, on a World Christianity term hitherto unrepresented on Wikipedia. The course is a relatively new one but it has already gone some way to redressing the balance in a field that has often been dominated by Western perspectives.

Reproductive Medicine undergraduates - September 2016 (CC-BY-SA)
Reproductive Medicine undergraduates – September 2016 (CC-BY-SA)

Reproductive Biology Honours students in September 2015 researched, synthesised and developed a first-rate Wikipedia entry of a previously unpublished medical term: Neuroangiogenesis. The case study is detailed here. The following September, the next iteration was more ambitious and a larger cohort of 38 students undertook a group research project on terms from reproductive medicine that were not yet represented on Wikipedia. All thirty-eight students were trained to edit Wikipedia and they worked collaboratively to research and produce the finished written articles.

High-grade serous carcinoma - new Wikipedia article researched and written by Áine Kavanagh, in September 2016.
High-grade serous carcinoma – new Wikipedia article researched and written by Áine Kavanagh, in September 2016.

All three assignments gave the students meaningful publication experience; developing their information literacy, digital literacy, collaborative working, academic writing & referencing. Rather than their work being viewed by one person, their tutor, this published work has now been viewed in excess of 15,000 times since last semester; adding well-researched scholarly research to the global open knowledge community which can be built on, updated & expanded for all time.

21st century skills
The 21st century skills a Wikipedia assignment engenders

I’m pleased to say that the response from the students and course leaders we have worked with this year has been extremely positive. Collaborations have been formed all over the university. The over-riding message being that Wikipedia does indeed belong in education; that it does indeed deliver on the 21st century skills that our higher education institutions would have its students learn.

It is also encouraging that through positive experiences & word-of-mouth, our collaborations last year are leading to further take-up & interesting projects are now being proposed by students as much as staff: History of Medicine at the Surgeons’ Hall Museum; Veterinary Medicine editathon; The Edinburgh University Student Translation Society translation project; an International Development Wikipedia project; ‘Bragging Writes’ – Women Writers editathon for International Women’s Day; and an African alumni and Swahili translate-a-thon for Gather Festival.

Beyond ensuring Wikipedia editing training is both embedded in regular digital skills workshops, and examining how it can support future teacher training, twelve members of staff from all different disciplines have now been trained to become Wikimedia Ambassadors in order to support academic colleagues in the longer term beyond the life of the residency. Finally, a core focus of the residency has been to demystify Wikipedia & its sister projects, Wikidata and Wikisource in particular, and many resources, video tutorials, lesson plans, case studies, video interviews and exemplars have been created & curated in order to lower the threshold for staff & students to be able to engage at the institution and to sharing this knowledge with other institutions.

Time and motivation are the two most frequent cited barriers to uptake. These are undoubted challenges to academics, students & support staff.  Happily, my experience is that the merits of engagement & an understanding of how Wikipedia assignments & edit-a-thons operate have overcome any such concerns in practice.

That begins with engaging in the conversation.

Wikipedia turned 16 a few weeks ago on January 15th 2017 and it has long been the elephant in the room but it is time to articulate that Wikipedia does indeed belong in education and that it plays an important role in our understanding & disseminating of the world’s knowledge. With Oxford University now also hosting their own Wikimedian in Residence on a university-wide remit, it is time also to articulate that this conversation is not going away. Far from it, current events only highlight that understanding how knowledge is created, curated & disseminated and by whom has never been more important. The best thing we can do as educators & information professionals is engage with these issues, articulate both the need for a critical information literacy & our vision for open education as a core part of the university’s mission and give our senior managers something they can say ‘Yes’ to.

Following a successful multidisciplinary approach, the residency is to be extended into a second year and expanded into a full-time post until January 2018.

If you would like to find out more then feel free to contact me at ewan.mcandrew@ed.ac.uk

Reflections on a Wikipedia assignment – Reproductive Medicine

Wikipedia as an important source of health information and not medical advice.

“The Internet, especially Wikipedia, had proven its importance in everyday life. Even the medical sector is influenced by Wikipedia’s omnipresence. It has gained considerable attention among both healthcare professionals and the lay public in providing medical information. Patients rely on the information they obtain from Wikipedia before deciding to seek professional help. As a result, physicians are confronted by a professional dilemma as patients weigh information provided by medical professionals against that on Wikipedia, the new provider of health information….

We state that Wikipedia should not be viewed as being inappropriate for its use in medical education. Given Wikipedia’s central role in medical education as reported in our survey, its integration could yield new opportunities in undergraduate education. High-quality medical education and sustainability necessitates the need to know how to search and retrieve unbiased, comprehensive, and reliable information. Students should therefore be advised in reflected information search and encouraged to contribute to the “perpetual beta” improving Wikipedia’s reliability. Therefore, we ask for inclusion in medical curricula, since guiding students’ use and evaluation of information resources is an important role of higher education. It is of utmost importance to establish information literacy, evidence-based practices, and life-long learning habits among future physicians early on, hereby contributing to medical education of the highest quality.
Accordingly, this is an appeal to see Wikipedia as what it is: an educational opportunity. This is an appeal to academic educators for supplementing Wikipedia entries with credible information from the scientific literature. They also should teach their protégés to obtain and critically evaluate information as well as to supplement or correct entries. Finally, this is an appeal to medical students to develop professional responsibility while working with this dynamic resource. Criticism should be maintained and caution exercised since every user relies on the accuracy, conscientiousness, and objectivity of the contributor.” (Herbert et al, BMC Medical Education, 2015)

Reproductive Medicine Wikipedia assignment at Edinburgh University – September 2016

Reproductive Medicine undergraduates - collaborating to create Wikipedia articles.
Reproductive Medicine undergraduates – collaborating to create Wikipedia articles.

In September 2016, Reproductive Biology Honours students undertook a group research project to research, in groups of 4-5 students with a tutor, a term from reproductive biomedicine that was not yet represented on Wikipedia. All 38 were trained to edit Wikipedia and they worked collaboratively both to undertake the research and produce the finished written article. The assignment developed the students’ information literacy, digital literacy, collaborative working, academic writing & referencing and ability to communicate to an audience. The end result was 8 new articles on reproductive medicine which enriches the global open knowledge community and will be added to & improved upon long after they have left university creating a rich legacy to look back upon.

One of the new articles, high-grade serous carcinoma, was researched and written by 4th year student, Áine Kavanagh.

High-grade serous carcinoma - new Wikipedia article researched and written by Áine Kavanagh, in September 2016.

Rather than a writing an assignment for an audience of one, the course tutor, and never read again, Aine’s article can be viewed, built on & expanded by an audience of millions. Since creating the article in September 2016, the article has now been viewed 2196 times.

Pageviews for the High Grade Serous Carcinoma
Pageviews for the High Grade Serous Carcinoma

Guest post:

Reflections on a Wikipedia assignment

by Áine Kavanagh.
Reproductuve Medicine students - September 2016
Reproductive Medicine students – September 2016

The process of writing a Wikipedia article involved me trying to answer the questions I was asking myself about the topic. What was it? Why should I care about it? What does it mean to society? I also needed to make the answers to those questions clear to other people who can’t see inside my head.

It then moved onto questions I thought other people might ask about the topic. Writing for Wikipedia is really an exercise in empathy and perspective. Who else is going to want to know about this and what might they be interested in about it?

Is what I’m writing accessible and understandable? Am I presenting it in a useful way? It’s an incredibly public piece of writing which is only useful if it serves the public, so trying to put yourself in the frame of someone who’s not you reading what you’ve written is important (and possibly the most difficult part).

It’s also about co-operation from the get-go. You can’t post a Wikipedia article and allow no one else to edit it. You are offering something up to the world. You can always come back to it, but you can never make it completely your own again. The beauty of Wikipedia is in groupthink, in the crowd intelligence it facilitates, but this means shared ownership, which can be hard to get your head around at first.

It’s a unique way of writing, and some tips for other students starting out on a Wikipedia project is to not be intimidated. Wikipedia articles in theory can be indefinitely long and dense and will be around for an indefinitely long time, so writing a few hundred words can seem like adding a grain of sand to a desert. But if the information is not already there then you are contributing – and what is Wikipedia if not just a big bunch of contributions?

There’s also the fear that editors already on Wikipedia will swoop down and denounce your article as completely useless – but the beauty of storing information is that you can never really have too much of it. There’s no-one who can truly judge what is and isn’t worthy of knowing*.

*There’s no-one who can judge what’s worth knowing, but the sum of human knowledge needs to be organised, and so there are actually guidelines as to what a Wikipedia article is (objective account of a thing) and is not (platform for self-promotion).

Áine Kavanagh

#1Lib1Ref – Wikipedia turns 16

Getting citations into Wikipedia – can you spare 16 minutes to mark Wikipedia’s 16th birthday?

 

#1Lib1Ref - 1 Librarian adding 1 Reference
#1Lib1Ref – 1 Librarian adding 1 Reference

 

It’s been quite the week in politics this week. #CitationDefinitelyNeeded

#1Lib1Ref - 1 Librarian adding 1 Reference
#1Lib1Ref – 1 Librarian adding 1 Reference

On Sunday 15th January 2017, Wikipedia will turn 16 years old. How often do you think you have used the free online encyclopaedia in this time?

In this Google Talk, the Wikimedia Foundation’s Executive Director, Katherine Maher, speaks engagingly about Wikipedia’s humble beginnings in 2001, where it is now and, importantly, where it is going.

To mark Wikipedia’s birthday, the Wikipedia Library are repeating their successful #1Lib1Ref campaign from last year. This global campaign “1 Librarian 1 Reference” (#1Lib1Ref) is to get Information Services professionals and educators adding citations to Wikipedia.

Events are taking place at the National Library of Scotland, the Bodleian Library in Oxford and all over the globe from January 15th To February 3rd 2017 but here at the University of Edinburgh we are kicking things off by asking you to spare a mere 16 minutes to mark Wikipedia’s 16 years on Friday 20th January 2017. (You won’t even need to leave your desk).

Your 1,2,3 to taking part in next Friday’s #1Lib1Ref event.

 

  1. Have a nosy at what is involved: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/The_Wikipedia_Library/1Lib1Ref – This link runs through what is involved (essentially finding one reference to back up a statement on Wikipedia that has no citation backing it up).
  2. Create a Wikipedia account ahead of Friday’s event. This 3 minute video shows what you need to do to setup your account. (NB: It is better if you do create an account at home ahead of time as Wikipedia limits the number of accounts that can be created from a single IP address within a 24 hour period to a mere 6 accounts.)
  3. On the day itself – This 5 minute video demos what you need to do. Essentially using the Citation Hunt tool to find a Wikipedia page that is both missing a citation  & that you are interested in helping out; and guiding you as to how to go about finding a suitable reference to fill that knowledge gap. NB: This post from the Biodiversity Heritage Library also illustrates the process too.

 

As you save your citation, please remember to add the hashtag #1Lib1Ref in your edit summary so that we can track participation in the event. We will announce these contributions on social media with the  strengthening Wikipedia’s links to scholarly publications and celebrating the collective expertise of the world’s Information Service professionals (so any pics you can share with the #1Lib1Ref hashtag would be greatly appreciated).

This is a chance to create incoming links or citations from articles that are usually the top Google hit for their topic. Citations can be to paper or electronic sources, that you are interested in professionally or otherwise. If you can supply citations for topics or authors that are under-represented in Wikipedia, then all the better. In January 2016, librarians around the world made thousands of edits to Wikipedia, with publicity seen by millions of people. You can read more about last year’s event here.

We live in the information age and the aphorism ‘one who possess information possesses the world’ of course reflects the present-day reality.” (Vladimir Putin in Interfax:Russia & CIS Presidential Bulletin, 30 June 2016).

To mark Wikipedia’s 16th birthday, and to assert that facts really do matter, let’s find Wikipedia pages we can help improve… and spend a few moments improving them with a reference (or two).

#FactsMatter #1Lib1Ref